Joint China-UK show to display fine European decorative art
Published: Apr 25, 2023 11:09 PM
Shandong Museum Photo: VCG

Shandong Museum Photo: VCG

An art exhibition co-organized by the Shandong Museum and the Victorian and Albert Museum (V&A) in the UK, to be launched on Friday, will bring ­exquisite 17th to 19th century fine European ornamental works of art to Shandong.

The exhibition displays 90 art treasures on loan from V&A's The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection. The collection is known for small art objects, often made of precious materials, and made with "extremely fine craft techniques," art expert Lei Lin told the Global Times. 

Diverse European artworks such as gold and silver vessels, painted enamels and micromosaics are all on display, reflecting the cultural lives and social etiquette of European nobles during the period from the 17th to the 19th century. 

Stellar items at the show include a snuffbox that belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte. The snuffbox is adorned with a miniature portrait of the historical figure himself. 

Historically, snuffboxes with portraits were extravagant gifts European rulers like Napoleon would send out as diplomatic gifts. Snuffbox culture also can be seen in China, especially during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Chinese folk culture expert Xiong Gang said. 

Dai Xuejing, deputy director of the Shandong Museum's Exhibition Department, said that beside the snuffbox, another star item is a silver multi-layered plate. Designed with signature intricate Rococo patterns, the silver object is decorated with flowers, shells and a pineapple, a symbol of fortune according to old European tradition. 

"The plate is a typical example of the decorations on an 18th century British dining table," Dai noted. 

Dai said, as an exhibition dedicated to showing both China and the UK's cultural histories, the show also displays Chinese treasures such as items from the Emperor Qianlong's private collections and other museum collections from the period of time.

"This is not just a visual feast of European history, culture and art," Dai said, adding that Chinese and Western culture have achieved common prosperity through exchanges.

The show is scheduled to end on August 31.