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Chinese Ceramics - And collecting in Britain

Visits to V&A and British Museum to see some of the best collections of Chinese ceramics outside China.

Gain an understanding of collecting history and how passionate connoisseurs have shaped the galleries collections.

Lunch in the William Morris room at the V&A.

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  • Chinese vase, wood engraving from 'The Magazine of Art' 1882.
    Chinese vase, wood engraving from 'The Magazine of Art' 1882.
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Unsurpassed by their counterparts from other civilisations, Chinese ceramics hold an exceptional status as works of art in terms of variety, technological achievement and cultural significance during the various stages of China’s long history. The first nation to create white, translucent porcelain, China inspired and influenced numerous other countries, though a European equivalent of hard-paste porcelain was not produced until the early 18th century.

In Chinese culture ceramics were primarily valued for their ritual and imperial implications, though also appreciated as general consumer goods. The current status of the art market attests to the continuation of that appreciation, with prices sky-rocketing over the last decade.

London is blessed with major collections at the British Museum and the V&A. To place ceramics in their historical context, the morning begins with a general introduction to Chinese art in the Tsui Gallery at the V&A. The Qing room in the upstairs galleries highlights the interest in Chinese material culture during the late Victorian era and the beginning of the 20th century.

The collecting history of Chinese ceramics in Britain starts in the 16th century, but it was not until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that it reached a zenith; hence the morning explores the collecting endeavours of certain traditional collectors, and this trend is contrasted with the collection of Sir Percival David at the British Museum in the afternoon.

David’s collection is unique in many aspects and can be regarded as one of the most important compilations of Chinese ceramics outside the Chinese Imperial holdings.


10.15am at the V&A.


By 5.00pm at the British Museum.


£195. This includes morning and afternoon refreshments and lunch is in the William Morris room at the V&A. Travel between the museums is by Underground.

More information about London Days gift vouchers.

Group size

Maximum 12 participants.


We will return the full amount if you notify us 22 or more days before the event. We will retain 50% if cancellation is made within three weeks and 100% if within three days. Please put your cancellation in writing to We advise taking out insurance in case of cancellation and recommend that overseas clients are also covered for possible medical and repatriation costs.


Map: London Days.

Dr Konstanze Knittler provided a structured, scholarly and thoroughly engaging introduction to Chinese ceramics. She was extremely generous in exceeding her time and her knowledge and enthusiasm were a joy to share. She has left me determined to go back to the galleries and learn far more about this fascinating subject.