A Ming Emperor’s seat is a beautiful glazed blue and white garden seat dating from the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Exeter’s RAMM will host one of the largest porcelains in the Sir Percival David Collection, courtesy of the British Museum Spotlight Loan tour. The seat was made for the court of the Wanli Emperor, one of the longest reigning of all the Ming dynasty emperors. Crafted in Jingdezhen, the seat features blue dragons surrounded by clouds, waves and a flaming jewel.
British Museum Spotlight Loan tour
RAMM is to display the seat as part of the British Museum’s National Programmes, marking the first time that the seat has been loaned to other museums in the UK. The British Museum Spotlight Loan tour travelled to Manchester Museum in early 2020 and will arrive at RAMM later this summer.
RAMM has a small collection of Chinese ceramics that were made for the Court and the export market. This includes Jingdezhen-made porcelain which was purchased alongside tea. Examples of blue and white ware on display are decorated with traditional floral motifs such as peonies, Chinese plum and chrysanthemum. A Ming Emperor’s seat shares with RAMM’s porcelain the Imperial enjoyment of flora, the kiln site of production and quality and methods of manufacture and decoration.
The loan celebrates the tenth anniversary of the arrival of the Sir Percival David Collection at the British Museum. Sir Percival David (1892-1964) built up the collection of 1,700 objects between 1914 and 1960, and it is considered to be one of the finest collections of Chinese ceramics in the world.
Jessica Harrison-Hall, head of China Section at the British Museum said: ‘Thanks to the generosity of the Sir Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, we are able to turn the spotlight on to this magnificent porcelain dragon seat and share it with the wonderful RAMM. I’m so thrilled this extraordinary object will be on display for visitors to admire the masterful craft behind the Ming porcelain seat.’
Julien Parsons, RAMM’s Senior Collections officer said: ‘We are very excited to be welcoming this masterpiece of Chinese ceramic art to RAMM this August. To be able to share this exceptional piece with our audiences is really special, and we we’re grateful for the opportunity.’
A British Museum Spotlight Loan A Ming Emperor’s seat will be on display at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum 10 August to 21 November 2021.
top image: Top view, large hollow blue and white porcelain garden seat, Jingdezhen, 1573–1620 © The Trustees of the British Museum lent by kind permission of the Trustees of the Sir Percival David Foundation