Non Western

Rare Antique Asian & Colonial Decorative Arts: Michael Backman Ltd

FORTHCOMING JUNE 2016

Rare Antique Asian & Colonial Decorative Arts: Michael Backman Ltd

Paperback, 300 x 245 mm, 128 pages, 100 colour illus.
PRICE: £25.00
ISBN: 9781911300038

 

By Michael Backman

The decorative arts of South and Southeast Asia, and especially those of the 18th and 19th centuries, and trade items produced during the same period, constitute a much neglected area. Such items, which in a Europeanised context tend to be labelled objets de vertu, are under-represented in public and private collections. While the decorative arts of later Western Europe and North America might be strongly represented, when it comes to South and Southeast Asia, there is a bias towards the ancient, the religious and the sculptural.

And yet the decorative arts of Asia of recent centuries is a more accessible and tangible field for many. The relative attractiveness of more recent Asian decorative arts, for which provenance issues need not be so acute, grows as the movement of archaeological and other early material across international borders becomes ever-more complex and problematic, be it for commercial or for exhibition purposes.

The objects presented here – ranging from ornate handled daggers and exquisite silver filigree boxes to diamond studded jewels and magnificent embroidered silk – are all of exceptional quality and are often incredibly rare. A carved ivory pendant most probably made in China c.1600 for the European market is exceptionally rare and probably unique.

The catalogue also includes a selection of items usually designated as ‘tribal’ art. Many of these have a decorative as much as a ritualistic component. Among the objects from Nigeria are a stunning 19th-century processional staff, topped with the figure of a queen, two museum-quality divination bowls carved by master craftsmen, and a striking and possibly unique five-headed dance costume. Most have been sourced from old UK and European collections, and most are likely to have been collected during the colonial era. This is important. Overwhelmingly, most ‘tribal’ art items available commercially today are reproduction pieces and have no place in serious collections.

Michael Backman is widely published on Asian culture, art and politics. He is the author of six books that cover all aspects of Asia. His Asian Eclipse was named by The Economist among its 'Books of the Year' and appeared on several bestseller lists. His gallery in central London specializes in works of art from India, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Himalayas, the Islamic World, and Colonial and Tribal art. The gallery sells to museums and important private collections across the world. 

 

 


MESROP OF XIZAN: An Armenian Master of the Seventeenth Century

Illuminator, painter, scribe, clerk, teacher, doctor of theology, restorer and binder, Mesrop was one of the greatest Armenian artists of his and following generations. He was prolific, working for at least forty-two years in Sos (New Julfa) from 1608 to 1651. This book will be the first serious study of the 46 of his manuscripts that have survived. The focus of the book, however, is The Four Gospels, one of the few manuscripts painted entirely by Mesrop’s hand and one of the most extensively illuminated in his oeuvre. More

Bringing Heaven to Earth: Chinese Silver Jewellery and Ornament in the Late Qing Dynasty

A groundbreaking study of a little-known and virtually undocumented area of the Chinese decorative arts from 1850 to 1930. More

Food for the Flames: Idols and Missionaries in Central Polynesia

Twenty-five years after Captain Cook, the London Missionary Society sent its first representatives to the South Seas. Their goal was to eradicate heathenism and idolatry, but unwittingly, they became agents for the preservation of Polynesian culture through their diligent recording of language and religious practices. They even preserved a number of religious artifacts, which they sent back to England for exhibition in the Mission Museum in London. This book focuses on these artifacts, the idols that avoided the flames. More

Provenance: Twelve Collectors of Ethnographic Art in England 1760–1990

Detailed biographies describe the lives of twelve collectors of tribal art in Britain, active between 1770 and 1990. These men were rarely field collectors and only occasional travellers, but they were vigorous hunters, for whom the pursuit, handling and possession of such objects was what mattered. More

Endeavouring Banks: Exploring the Collections from the Endeavour Voyage 1768–1771

When English naturalist Joseph Banks accompanied Captain James Cook on his historic mission into the Pacific, he took with him a team of collectors and illustrators. They returned with unprecedented collections of artefacts and specimens of stunning birds, fish and other animals as well as thousands of plants, most seen for the first time in Europe. They produced, too, remarkable landscape and figure drawings along with detailed journals, descriptions and maps of the places visited. This collection – along with contemporary portraits of key personalities aboard the ship, scale models and plans of the ship itself, scientific instruments taken on the voyage, commemorative medals and sketches – will tell the story of the Endeavour voyage and its impact ahead of the 250th anniversary in 2018 of the launch of this seminal mission. More

A Library of Manuscripts from India

This beautiful collection of illustrated manuscripts takes the reader on a visual journey through great epics, charged romances and colourful cautionary tales from the Indian subcontinent of the 16th to 20th centuries. More

Silk, Porcelain and Lacquer: China and Japan and their trade with Western Europe and the New World, 1500–1644

A vibrant and in-depth exploration of early globalization – how European intercontinental maritime trade linked up Asia, western Europe and the New World in the early modern period, and what Asian manufactured goods they traded. More

Missionaries and Idols in Polynesia

This beautifully illustrated exhibition catalogue documents the London Missionary Society from its formation to its initial ‘success’ in Polynesia, from roughly 1792 to 1825. Along with historical graphics and archive material – paintings, engravings, books, journals and correspondence of the missionaries – this publication shows some of the idols and artefacts that the missionaries brought back – feather gods and spirit images, necklaces, instruments and tools. More

Remembering Forward: Paintings of Australian Aborigines Since 1960

Remembering Forward presents works by nine of the most prominent Australian Aboriginal artists: Paddy Bedford, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Queenie McKenzie, Dorothy Napangardi, Rover Thomas, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri and Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula. More

Hakob’s Gospels: The Life and Work of An Armenian Artist of the Sixteenth Century

In the winter of 1586, Hakob Jughayets'i, one of Armenia's most celebrated illuminators, completed work on a Gospel Book with an extensive and extraordinary programme of narrative miniatures and marginal figures. More