How Chinese Art Came to America

I am pleased to recommend two volumes which I recently read which provide interesting background to the prevalence of Chinese art in America. The first is The China Collectors- America’s Century Long Hunt for Asian Art Treasures by Karl Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac, published by Palgrave Macmillan. This volume traces the earliest Americans who sought Asian art and helped to form collections. The volume continues through to Avery Brundage whose collection forms a significant part of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Important dealers and their contributions are also covered in detail. I found this volume to be informative and entertaining.


The second volume, The Great Chinese Art transfer- How So Much of China’s Art Came to America by Michael St. Clair was published last year by Fairleigh Dickenson University Press.

This volume is written in an easy to read style but is somewhat marred by poor proof reading of the text. There are a number of errors which a good editor could have caught. This defect is balanced by an interesting well researched subject. The author shows real passion for his subject and it comes through in the text. Details about the former Imperial Collection are especially interesting.


Taken together, these books document the rise and expansion of collecting Chinese art in America. I am certain the next volume dealing with the subject will document the movement of Asian art from America to Mainland China. That will be quite a story to tell!

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