Tuesday, May 27, 2008


It is only relatively recently that the Gallery has turned its attention to the acquisition of historical Asian art. The purchase in 1990 of a small but significant focus collection of tsubo (lidless jars) from Japan's Six Old Kilns (the Tokoname, Seto, Shigaraki, Tamba, Bizen, and Echizen kilns), dating from the Muromachi and Azuchi-Momoyama periods, marked the beginning of a new emphasis on the acquisition of historical Asian art.

Prior to this, historical Asian works entered the Gallery's Collection only sporadically as gifts from specialist collectors, including ukiyo-e prints gifted by the late Professor Joyce Ackroyd and a group of netsuke (carved toggles) bequeathed by Karl and Gertrude Langer.

The Gallery continues to enjoy the support and generosity of interested collectors. In 1992 James Fairfax, AO, gifted a superb pair of six-fold screens by the early seventeenth-century Japanese artist Unkoku Toeki. Most recently the Gallery has been gifted two Chinese Neolithic jars by Wellington and Virginia Yee, representing a new collecting interest.

From December 2006, these collections have been augmented by significant works on long-term loan from private and public collections. The scope of the loans program includes works of outstanding quality, including superb Chinese porcelains and Buddhist statuary from the Shanghai Museum in China; exquisite Persian miniatures, ancient Near Eastern earthenwares and thirteenth-century Khmer ceramics from the Smithsonian Institution’s Arthur M Sacker Gallery in Washington DC; Joseon dynasty ceramics from the National Museum of Korea; and a group of significant sixteenth- to eighteenth-century ceramics relating to the Japanese tea ceremony tradition from the Idemitsu Museum of Arts in Japan. Displayed alongside works from the Gallery’s Collection, these objects highlight the richness and sophistication of the cultural traditions of our neighbours in the Asia–Pacific region.

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