We tend to think of the competition between state-directed and free economic activity as being a relatively modern phenomenon. It is not. The history of the kilns at Jingdezhen provides a classic example of how the pendulum has continued to swing down the centuries and across continents. Centralization of imperial porcelain production in the town at the beginning of the Ming dynasty drove a rapid expansion of the imperial kilns and made them both technical and artistic leaders of the field. Yet as that dynasty waned, the baton passed to the private kilns, driven as much by changes to government policy as by new private wealth and foreign demand.
Long interested in Chinese art and antiquities, and an avid collector of jade, Tony Miller's chance encounter with a set of four biscuit carved tiles led him into a previously un- researched area. Subsequently an exhibition organized by him and his wife, Nga-ching, with the assistance of the Art Museum Chinese University Hong Kong in 2005, broke new ground. The catalogue associated with it, Elegance in Relief: Carved Porcelain from Jingdezhen of the 19th to early 20th Century, which included a research essay by Tony, has since become the standard reference work on this genre.
More recently Tony has spoken and written on porcelain of the late Ming and early Qing period. A reticulated bowl of the Wanli reign, which he loaned for the Min Chiu Society’s 20015-16 Ming exhibition, was the focal point for one such talk and shone new light on another group of objects that had not previously been properly studied.
Tony is a keen member and past-president of the Oriental Ceramic Society, Hong Kong, and also a member of the Min Chiu Society. He came to Hong Kong in 1972 and served in the Hong Kong Government through the transition of sovereignty in 1997. Prior to retiring from public service in 2007, he and his wife represented Hong Kong at the World Trade Organization in Geneva.
Time: Reception desk opens at 6:30 pm; talk starts 7:00 pm
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