Collecting Chinese Art in Central Europe: From the Time of Rudolph II to the 21st Century
June 1, 2023, 5 pm Conference hall of the NL (1st floor)
Lecture by Michaela Pejčová (in English)
Collections of Chinese art have been formed in Central Europe ever since the Renaissance-Era cabinets of curiosities, of which that at the court of the Emperor Rudolph II in Prague was an outstanding example. Since the 16th century, Chinese porcelain, lacquer, and decorative objects have been amassed in the aristocratic mansions and noble villas, continued in the 19th and early 20th centuries by the collections of artists and art enthusiasts. In the 20th century, and most notably during the inter-war period, both ancient and modern Chinese paintings were introduced to Central Europe. Travelers and dealers brought them in great quantities following the requests of local collectors. At the same time, the establishing of a state-run institution for collecting Asian art was discussed in Czechoslovakia for the first time. Later, official contacts between the PRC and Czechoslovakia flourished in the 1950s and early 1960s, which facilitated artistic exchange and collecting of Chinese artworks. Finally, from 1989 onwards, exchanges with museums in the ROC were also revived and several exhibitions took place in Czechoslovakia introducing collections from Taiwan. In this talk, these stages of collecting and exhibiting Chinese art in the Central-European region will be discussed, looking back at some of the crucial factors that helped to form the collections of Chinese artworks in today’s Czech Republic.
Michaela Pejčochová (貝米沙) graduated in Chinese Studies from the Charles University in Prague. She specializes in Chinese art, the theory of the arts in traditional China, and collecting Asian art in the West. She has been working as curator of the Chinese art collections at the National Gallery in Prague for the past 20 years and published its unique collection of modern Chinese ink paintings as Masters of the 20th-Century Chinese Ink Painting from the Collections of the National Gallery in Prague. In 2019, she has completed the monograph Emissary from the Far East. Vojtěch Chytil and the Collecting of Modern Chinese Painting in Interwar Czechoslovakia, where Chytil’s collection of Chinese, Japanese and Tibetan art is analyzed. Most recently, she published the study One Hundred Years of a Single Tree. Lubor Hájek and Institutional Collecting of Asian Art in Czechoslovakia, where the establishing of the Asian Collection at the National Gallery in Prague is described in detail. Besides these works, she published studies on ancient Chinese painting and theories of painting of the Song and Ming dynasties, and has been teaching both these subjects intermittently at the Charles University in Prague.