Chinese Whispers, with Dr. Julian Raby
K S Lo Memorial Lecture co-presented by the Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong and the Asia Society Hong Kong Center
With Dr. Julian Raby, Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution
Chinese porcelain was a product that was both fashionable and unfathomable in Europe and the Central Islamic lands in the 16th century. There were numerous accounts of how it was made, but they were flawed by a lack of understanding and embellished with fantasy. Dr. Julian Raby will discuss the several different traditions that co-existed — some from travelers, some from scholars who drew heavily on models drawn from the Classical world, and look at how "knowledge" about this fabled substance was traded between Europe and the Ottoman Empire, and how, in the absence of empirical observation, scholars were swayed by other epistemologies.
Dr. Julian Raby has been Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. since 2002. Educated at Magdalen College, Oxford where he earned his doctorate in Oriental Studies in 1981. Dr. Raby is a distinguished scholar of Islamic art and architecture, which he taught at Oxford from 1979 to 2006. During his time as Chairman of Curators of the Oriental Institute (1991–1993; 1995–2000), Dr. Raby was involved in the creation of the Oxford University Teaching and Research Unit in Hebrew and Jewish Studies.
While at the Freer & Sackler galleries, Dr. Raby has supervised over 40 exhibitions, many of which have travelled worldwide, including Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (2007), and Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur (2008), which was nominated by The International Herald Tribune as “the Asian art exhibition of the year." Dr. Raby has also championed other popular exhibitions including Return of the Buddha: The Qingzhou Discoveries (2004), Style and Status: Imperial Costumes from Ottoman Turkey (2005), In the Beginning: Bibles Before the Year 1000 (2006), Hokusai (2006), Tsars and the East: Gifts from Turkey and Iran in the Moscow Kremlin (2009) and Falnama: The Book of Omens (2009). Dr. Raby has extensive experience in publishing in Asian studies as an author, editor and publisher, including as series founder and editor of Oxford in Islamic Art. Dr. Raby has authored numerous papers, articles and books in the field of Islamic art, including Venice, Dürer and the Oriental Mode (1982), Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey (1989), Turkish Bookbinding in the 15th Century (1993) and Qajar Portraits: Figure Paintings from 19th-Century Persia (1999).
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