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Chan, Ivy Yi Yan (2021) Collecting Chinese Art in Hong Kong from 1949 to 1997: Collectors, Museums and the Art Market. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is a study of Chinese art collecting in Hong Kong during the second half of the 20th century. Through reconstructing the biographies of four representative collectors, who also held other roles as art dealer, adviser, scholar or museum donor, it demonstrates the diversity of collecting practices which thrived in this British colony and characterises how individuals and their networks shaped private and public collections, Chinese art scholarship and developments in the art market. Four representative collectors are examined to show how the multicultural environment of Hong Kong enabled collecting activities to thrive, and how collectors in turn contributed to enriching the collecting environment in Hong Kong. Firstly, Edward T. Chow’s collecting is viewed in relation to the impact of Shanghai dealers and collectors in bringing their expertise and collections to Hong Kong; secondly, Dr Ip Yee’s collecting activities epitomise how a new group of Western-educated middle-class professionals built institutional as well as private collections while furthering scholarship on specific categories of Chinese art such as bamboo carving; thirdly, the Singaporean collector Low Chuck-Tiew demonstrates the sense of nationalism, shared by many Cantonese diasporic communities, which motivated him to collect Chinese art and ultimately donate his collection to Hong Kong; lastly, T. T. Tsui’s method of sharing art with a global audience through opening a private museum and sponsoring international institutions reveals how collecting in Hong Kong became intertwined with business and diplomacy around the time of the handover of Hong Kong to China. By comparing these four collectors’ approaches to collecting and reflecting upon the roles they played in private collecting, museums and the art market from 1949 to 1997 in Hong Kong and beyond, the current research identifies distinctive characteristics of Hong Kong collecting which were unique to this eventful time and place.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Stacey Pierson
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2021 15:05

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