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Becky MacGuire

Independent Consultant, Former Senior Specialist for Chinese Export Art at Christie's NY

Four Centuries of Blue and White:
the Frelinghuysen Collection of Chinese and Japanese Export Porcelain


The Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT

2 PM  

Monday, October 16, 2023




1 PM 

Tuesday, October 15, 2023

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First made in the heart of China in the fourteenth century, blue and white porcelain circulated throughout the world, journeying first by land and then by sea and exciting wonder and the desire to possess wherever it went. Its qualities of hardness and fineness, the brilliant contrast of its vibrant blues with its bright white ground and the pleasing proportions of its shapes had no equal. Almost four hundred years went by before a material of its quality could be produced anywhere else in the world.


The remarkably comprehensive Frelinghuysen collection of Asian blue and white porcelain, assembled over five decades, speaks of the many ways these wares were traded, collected, lived with and loved over the centuries. It includes magnificent rarities made for the first Europeans to sail to Asia as well as iconic classics from the age of the great trading companies and wares made for the Islamic world and Japan. The collection’s singular focus on blue and white also led to some much less-studied material, like a fascinating group made for the Thai royal court in the 1880s. A full complement of Japanese export porcelain provides an intriguing counterpoint to the Chinese, while later Chinese pieces reflect the increasing influence of European ceramics factories.


The forthcoming Frelinghuysen book, Four Centuries of Blue & White, will publish and illustrate 550 pieces from the collection with contributions by Bill Sargent and Angela Howard alongside the speaker’s text. This talk will be an early preview for Connecticut Ceramics Circle members of the forthcoming publication to be launched in London in late October.

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Becky MacGuire retired from Christie’s after a 30-year career as the firm’s senior specialist in Chinese export art, where she brought to market the export collections of Benjamin F. Edwards III, Doris & Leo Hodroff, Peter H.B. Frelinghuysen Jr, James Sowell and Alvaro Condé and played a key role in larger collection sales that encompassed Asian export art, like those of David Rockefeller and Ann Getty. A senior vice-president of the firm, Becky was also Director of the New York Exceptional Sale, leading the team that sold decorative arts masterpieces to the Met, Versailles, the Musée d’Orsay and other major institutions, including the Adrian de Vries bronze sculpture now in the Rijksmuseum’s Gallery of Honour. After graduation from the University of California at Berkeley with honors in art history, Becky completed the program of the Study Centre for the Fine and Decorative Arts at the V&A Museum. She was an original appraiser on the American Antiques Roadshow and a founding partner of The Chinese Porcelain Company.

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