top of page
  • Writer's pictureAnthony Wu

April Bishop White Committee Newsletter from the Royal Ontario Museum

My latest article can be found in the Spring 2017 issue of the Royal Ontario Museum's 'Newsletter of the Bishop White Committee'. Published twice a year (Fall and Spring) by the ROM, the BWC Newsletter reports on current departmental news, upcoming events, and commentaries that deal with the museum's East Asian department.

The Bishop White Committee was founded in 1960 by a group of museum volunteers led by Louise Hawley Stone (1904-1997) to promote the ROM's Far Eastern department. Named after Bishop William Charles White (1873-1960), the first curator of the ROM's East Asian Gallery, the group promotes Asian Art by organizing lectures and events, expanding the East Asian library, and raising funds for curators and new acquisitions.

This current issue includes the important announcement that the estate of the great New York collector/dealer Robert Hatfield Ellsworth (1929-2014) has donated 10.3 million CAD towards the ROM's endowment fund for new acquisitions, curatorial work and programs.

Ellsworth was one of the most well-known connoisseur of classical Chinese furniture, archaic jade carvings and Buddhist sculpture during the second half of the 20th Century. The majority of his estate was sold in a monumental six-part auction at Christie's New York in March of 2015, setting numerous world records in various categories. His comprehensive New York Times obituary can be found here.

My brief article on page 6 deals with one of my favourite porcelain wares in the museum that SHOULD be out on public display. This Chinese Famille Rose 'Yangcai' Vase from the Qianlong Period (1736-1795) is probably one of the most important examples of this type of Imperial porcelain in North America. It was especially ordered by the Qianlong emperor sometime between 1740-1744 for his own private residence within the Forbidden City.

Exceptional in its decoration, the term 'yangcai' (洋彩)translates to 'foreign colours', a term for coloured enamels introduced by the Jesuits to the Chinese court in the early 18th Century. This vase would be important for those interested in researching the tastes of the Qing court, the history of Chinese porcelain, and the influence of the West in Chinese art history.

The vase was also featured in my commentary "Representing Current Market Trends in the Modern Asian Art Institution," published in the January/February 2017 issue of Orientations magazine.

Please email me at if you would like a PDF version of the Spring BWC newsletter.

bottom of page