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NEW YORK, NY.- As a highlight of New York Asia Week, March 2015, Christie’s will present an important private collection of superb Chinese porcelain. An Era of Inspiration: 17th-Century Porcelains from the Collection of Julia and John Curtis will feature 95 lots, each vividly showcasing the talent and creativity of the 17th-century porcelain artisans. A one-day symposium will also take place during the sale preview.

Combining superb quality and sophisticated connoisseurship, the Curtis Collection of 17th-century Chinese porcelains provides a unique window into the exciting period of porcelain production in China between the fall of the Ming dynasty and the onset of the Qing dynasty. Freed from the confines of imperial restrictions, artisans at Jingdezhen looked to literary sources and printed illustrations that appealed to literati taste and highlighted popular narratives from the past. The period witnessed a closer relationship between works on paper and silk and painting on porcelain, vividly illustrating the skills of porcelain painters who were true artists in their own right. This brief period of unprecedented artistic license resulted in works of unsurpassed creativity and innovation. The exhibition, symposium and sale of this carefully assembled and meticulously researched collection will provide collectors and scholars the unique opportunity to engage with the brilliantly decorated porcelains produced in this short period of time.


A Superb Large Blue And White Brush Pot. Chongzhen Period, circa 1640. 8 in. (20.3 cm.) high. Estimate: $100,000-150,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2015.

Julia and John Curtis have assembled this important collection over a period of over thirty-five years. Drawn to each piece first for its beauty as a work of art, the Curtises would then consider its place in the overall scheme of the collection.

A well-known scholar on the subject, Dr. Julia Curtis has published extensively on Chinese porcelain production in the 17th century. She has also curated numerous exhibitions, including two for the China Institute, the first on Chinese porcelains for the domestic market produced between 1620 and the 1690s and the second on wares made in Jingdezhen for the Japanese market between c. 1620 and 1645. Dr. Curtis was also the co-curator with Sir Michael Butler and Stephen Little of the seminal exhibition and publication Shunzhi Porcelain: Treasures from an Unknown Reign, 1644-1661. She served on the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ Board of Trustees for ten years and has been the North American representative of the Oriental Ceramic Society, London, since 1988.

Mr. Curtis has served as a trustee of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts or the VMFA Foundation since 1982. He was President of the Board of Trustees 1988-1992 and Chairman of the Foundation 1998-2004. He was trustee of China Institute in America 1992-2009, and trustee of the Freer-Sackler Galleries 2006-2010. Since 2003 he has been a member of the Visiting Committee of the Department of Asian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


A Rare Large Blue And White Vase. Early Kangxi Period, circa 1680, 16 in. (40.6 cm.) high. Estimate: $25,000-35,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2015.