During the second half of the 19th century, large quantities of silverware were made in China according to European specifications for export to the West. Initially, the centre of the production of Chinese export silverware was located in Guangzhou, but subsequently moved to Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The history of Chinese export silver can be traced to at least the early Qing dynasty. Evidence of Chinese export-type silverware dating to the Kangxi period could be found in several European imperial family collections. However, production from this initial period appeared to be very small and ad hoc. It was not until the Daoguang period that large-scale production of Chinese export silver took place.
The existence of an export silver trade was little known to the Chinese people until very recent times, as virtually all the products were exported overseas. It is interesting to note the wide range of objects made by the Chinese silversmiths for foreigners, and the skillful adaptation of the Chinese motifs in their products.
The talk will be fully illustrated with important and representative pieces of Chinese export silver drawn from the Muwen Tang collection.
Practicing architect and Chinese art historian, Dr. Simon Kwan (關善明博士) graduated from The University of Hong Kong with a PhD degree in Fine Arts. He has written over 20 books and delivered many lectures on Chinese arts in the past 20 years, on the subjects of Chinese gold, silver, lacquer, mother-of-pearl, ceramics, jade, glass, sculptures, etc.
Dr. Kwan is currently a committee member of the Hong Kong University Museum and Art Gallery, the Chinese University Art Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of Art; and former president of the Min Chiu Society.