Page 1 - Chinese Porcelain The Altman Collection
P. 1

Chinese Porcelain in the
Altman Collection

  by F O N G C H O W AssistantCuratorof Far EasternArt

   Under a vibrant and tender green sky           seven sculptures. The Rospigliosi cup is one of
  Yellow-centered prunus blossoms high.           the most famous treasuresof his collection.

Anyone who looks with leisure at the green           Mr. Altman began his career as a collector in
hawthorn vase illustrated on the cover will be    1882, when he was forty-two years old, with the
                                                  modest purchase of a pair of Chinese copper
rewarded with an instant sense of spring. White-  vaseswith enamel decoration. Soon afterwardhe
breasted birds chirp joyfully while they thread
in and out of the aubergine and green branches,   began to acquire porcelain, with the help of
among swaying bamboos and lichen-covered          Theodore Y. Hobby, Keeper of the Altman Col-
rocks. Perhaps only nature and great works of     lection from 1914 to 1958. The porcelains he be-
art can move us so deeply; for the Chinese there  queathed to the Museum number 429, most of
has always been a close connection between the    which can be called masterpieces. Only one
two.                                              other collection in the world can be ranked with

   The vase is one of the magnificent porcelains  this one: the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. collection
given to the Museum in 1913 by Benjamin Alt-      of Ming and Ch'ing ceramics, seventy-three
man, whose great bequest also included fifteen    pieces of which were bequeathed to the Museum
Oriental rugs, fifty-one paintings from the fif-
teenth to the seventeenth centuries, and twenty-  in 1961.
                                                     The Altman porcelains are now exhibited in

                                                  a new setting on the north and south balconies

Fig. i. Left: mantleset of five pieces in famille rose. Ch'ing dynasty,Ch'ien-lungperiod (I736-1795).
Heights25 and23 inchesR. ight:threepiecesfroma setoffiveinfamillenoire.Ch'ingdynasty,K'ang-hspi eriod
(I662-I722). Enamel on biscuit. Heights 24 and i8 inches

All the objects illustrated in this article were bequeathed to the Museum by Benjamin Altman in 1913

                                                  ' -~MEML-       s

i i LE.
         X  . i...


                    m- I

                    .... i

                                                             The Metropolitan Museum of Art

                                                  is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve, and extend access to

                                                             The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin                       ®

   1   2   3   4   5   6