Introducing the Art of Modern China: Trends in Exhibiting Modern Chinese Painting in Britain, c. 1930-80

Ying Ling HUANG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


By 1930, the British public took a stronger interest in early Chinese art than in works produced in the pre-modern and modern periods. However, China’s cultural diplomacy in Britain during war-time, as well as the interactions between collectors, scholars and artists of both countries, helped refresh Occidental understanding of the tradition and recent achievements of Chinese art. This article examines the ways in which modern Chinese painting was perceived, collected and displayed in Britain from 1930 to 1980 – the formative period for the collecting and connoisseurship of modern Chinese art in the West. It analyses exhibitions of twentieth-century Chinese painting held in museums and galleries in order to map trends and identify the major parties who introduced the British public to a new aspect of Chinese pictorial art. It also discusses prominent Chinese painters’ connections with British curators, scholars and dealers, who helped establish their reputation in Britain.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfhy017
Pages (from-to)383-401
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the History of Collections
Issue number2
Early online date23 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

The research described in this article was substantially supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project no. LU 244612). Early versions of this paper were presented in the international conference The Far East: Collectors and Collections Today, at the Musée des Confluences in Lyon, and in the conference Chinese Painting Since 1900: Scholarship, Exhibitions and Collections at the University of Oxford, both in 2016. I express my sincere gratitude to the delegates who provided meaningful feedback on my presentations, and acknowledge the help and advice of the late Professor Michael Sullivan, Alessandra Cereda, Karine Sarant-Hawkins, Matilda Mitchell, Nina Wan, Douglas Hall, Mark Pomeroy, and Tristan Pollard during my research.


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