Bard Graduate Center Logo Why Come to Hear Kee Il Choi Jr.?

Kee Il Choi Jr. will give a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Thursday, February 28, at 12:15 pm. His talk is entitled “Ancien, Nouveau et Antique: Display and Connoisseurship in a Princely Ceramics Collection.”

The European practice of mounting ceramics in silver and gilt bronze has long fascinated historians of the decorative arts, who have interpreted mounted Asian porcelains in particular as sites of aesthetic or ideological appropriation. Nonetheless, important questions remain about why specific wares were made or selected for mounting, how they were commercialized by the eighteenth-century Parisian marchand merciers, and what the resultant hybrid aesthetic reveals about European practices of display. This talk approaches these issues through an important group of ornament drawings datable to ca. 1770–85, currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The suite’s thirty sheets illustrate ninety-one vases designated as ancien (from China and Japan), nouveau (from Meissen and Sèvres), and antique (Etruscan or Attic pottery), with the Asian ceramics implicitly promoted as the qualitative standard for those of European manufacture. The sheets’ consistent draftsmanship suggests a single studio or hand, while annotations regarding size, color, texture, and the composition of specific garnitures have led previous scholars to interpret the suite as a mail order catalogue sent by a Parisian merchant-mercer to Prince Albert of Saxony (1738–1822), Duke of Saxe-Teschen and his wife Marie-Christine (1742–1798). A more comprehensive examination offers evidence that in fact it represents a visual inventory of the Saxe-Teschen ceramics collection, the unique composition of which was determined by a confluence of hereditary taste and current fashion.

Kee Il Choi Jr. was born, raised, and educated in New England. He received his BA from Tufts University and MA at the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art. Since 1980, he has been a dealer and consultant specializing in the art of the Global Encounter, especially between China and the West. In March of 2017, he was admitted as PhD candidate at the Centre for the Arts in Society at Leiden University. The working title of his dissertation project is “Reflections in an Ancient Mirror: Henri-Leonard Bertin, Joseph-Marie Amiot and the Pursuit of Virtue.”

This talk will take place in the Seminar Room at 38 West 86th Street and is open to the BGC community and invited guests. Please RSVP to