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30 October 2010

Next Meeting Sunday, 21 November

15th Century dish produced in the Kalong kilns of Northern Thailand. It is in a Japanese collection.

The next meeting of the WOCG will be on Sunday, November 21 at 2 pm in the Freer Gallery Conference Room. Our speakers will be Don Hein, the eminent Australian ceramic archaeologist, and Bob Retka, a serious student of Thai ceramics and a member of the WOCG. Thai ceramics will be the topic of this Freer+Sackler and WOCG meeting. Bob and Don will discuss their recent visits to a 19th century kiln at Sam Khok north of Bangkok on the Chao Phraya River and Northern Thai ceramic production sites. RSVP to David Rehfuss, 703 503 3195, The Freer Gallery Conference Room is on the lower level of the Gallery, adjacent to the exhibition “China Mania”.

Synopsis of last meeting

On September 25 at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, we were guided by Dr. Rob Mintz, curator of Asian Art, through the Walters’ Asian art galleries. The Asian collection is particularly strong in Thai Buddhist sculpture, Indian and Himalayan art objects, and Chinese and Japanese ceramics. The Walters’ collection was initially formed in the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries by the William and Henry Walters who assembled a wide array of European and Asian art, gifting their collection to the City of Baltimore in the 1930s.

Much of the Japanese material was purchased at fashionable international expositions in the latter half of the 19th century. The production of the often intricate Japanese art objects for sale at these expositions was sponsored by the Japanese Government to promote its artists. The Walters’ very intimate gallery showcasing Japanese tea objects is worth the trip to Baltimore by itself. Highlights of the Chinese ceramics include 18th century Qing dynasty imperial monochrome porcelains, a large, magnificent 16th century Ming dynasty wine jar decorated with carp and water plants in over-glaze enamels, and a very early (1552 C.E.) blue and white century porcelain bottle made for the Portuguese market.

The Walters has a extraordinary collection of Thai Buddhist sculpture, the result of gifts by Baltimore residents, often during the curatorship of home-town boy, just-retired Asian Curator “Woody” Woodward, a major S.E. Asian Buddhism scholar. The most recent important gift to the Walters was by the Doris Duke Foundation whose founder had a long term-love affair with Thai art and culture. Because of the reputation of Woody and Forrest McGill, Woody’s counterpart at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the bulk of the Doris Duke Foundation’s Southeast Asian collection went to the Walters and San Francisco. Selections were made with Woody and McGill alternatively picking objects for their museums. I wonder who went first!

Remember the Tuesday, November 2nd lecture on Vietnam’s history, culture and ceramics arranged by the Smithsonian Associates at 6:45-9 pm in the Smithsonian’s’ International Gallery next to the Castle, 1100 Jefferson Drive, SW; metro: Smithsonian Mall Exit on the Blue/Orange lines. Details at the Smithsonian Associates website.

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