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      Exhibition

      Asian Export Art

      Ongoing

      Today's hours:

      Closed

      Monday

      10 am–5 pm

      Tuesday

      Closed

      Wednesday

      Closed

      Thursday

      10 am–5 pm

      Friday

      10 am–5 pm

      Saturday

      10 am–5 pm

      Sunday

      10 am–5 pm

      Monday

      10 am–5 pm

      Tuesday

      Closed

      Wednesday

      Closed

      Thursday

      10 am–5 pm

      Friday

      10 am–5 pm

      Saturday

      10 am–5 pm

      Sunday

      10 am–5 pm

      Beginning in the 16th century, many luxuries made in Asia such as translucent Chinese porcelain, fine Indian textiles, and glittering Japanese lacquer were superior to anything the rest of the world could produce.

      Merchants across the globe went to great lengths to acquire these spectacular commodities. Now known as Asian export art, these objects connected societies and created a complex global economy that continues to shape our world to this day.

      PEM’s Asian Export Art collection, foremost in the world, explores cross-cultural exchange as a catalyst for creativity and celebrates the interplay of commerce and creative expression. The gallery features more than 200 works of art made in diverse media by artists in China, Japan, and South Asia. These transcultural objects demonstrate the beauty and ingenuity that can be created through blending artistic traditions, materials, and technologies. Porcelain, textiles, tea, ivory, and silver were the focus of intensive trade activity between Asia and the rest of the world. The new installation also addresses the uncomfortable truth that many of these works of art were originally purchased with profits derived from the illegal opium trade. During the 1800s, millions of Indian and Chinese lives were devastated by opium, a foreshadowing of today’s opioid crisis.

      Share your impressions on social media using the hashtag #PEMAsianExportArt

      ABOVE IMAGE: Artists in Guangzhou, China, Wu Bingjian, Known as Houqua, about 1835. Oil on canvas. Gift of Rebecca B. Chase, Ann B. Mathias, Robert H. Bradford, and Charles E. Bradford in memory of their mother and father, Rebecca Brown Bradford and Robert Fiske Bradford, 1990. M23228.
      Chinese artist, charger with symbol of Order of St. Augustine, 1590–1620. Porcelain. Museum purchase with funds donated by the Asian Export Art Visiting Committee. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Dennis Helmar.

      Chinese artist, charger with symbol of Order of St. Augustine, 1590–1620. Porcelain. Museum purchase with funds donated by the Asian Export Art Visiting Committee. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Dennis Helmar.

      Japanese artist, jewel box, about 1640. Lacquer, wood, ivory, gold. Museum purchase with funds donated in honor of Anne G. Studzinski. © Peabody Essex Museum.

      Japanese artist, jewel box, about 1640. Lacquer, wood, ivory, gold. Museum purchase with funds donated in honor of Anne G. Studzinski. © Peabody Essex Museum.

      Lamqua, Portrait of Wu Bingjian, Also Known as Houqua II, painted about 1840. Oil on canvas. Gift of Rebecca B. Chase, Ann B. Mathias, and Charles E. Bradford. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Mark Sexton/PEM.

      Lamqua, Portrait of Wu Bingjian, Also Known as Houqua II, painted about 1840. Oil on canvas. Gift of Rebecca B. Chase, Ann B. Mathias, and Charles E. Bradford. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Mark Sexton/PEM.

      Chinese artist, charger with the arms of Dobree, ca. 1755. Porcelain. Museum purchase with funds donated by the Asian Export Art Visiting Committee. © Peabody Essex Museum.

      Chinese artist, charger with the arms of Dobree, ca. 1755. Porcelain. Museum purchase with funds donated by the Asian Export Art Visiting Committee. © Peabody Essex Museum.

      Portable shrine, about 1597. Attributed to the School of Giovanni Niccolò and the Jesuit Seminary workshop, Kyushu, Japan, with lacquer case by artists in Japan, probably Kyushu, Portable shrine, about 1597. Oil on wood panel, in a lacquered wood case wit

      Portable shrine, about 1597. Attributed to the School of Giovanni Niccolò and the Jesuit Seminary workshop, Kyushu, Japan, with lacquer case by artists in Japan, probably Kyushu, Portable shrine, about 1597. Oil on wood panel, in a lacquered wood case with mother-of-pearl inlay. Museum purchase, made possible by an anonymous donor, 2000. AE85752.

      Artists in Visakhapatnam, India, Chair, 1760–70. Ebony, inlaid ivory, cane and lac. Museum purchase made possible by an anonymous donor, 2001. AE85784.

      Artists in Visakhapatnam, India, Chair, 1760–70. Ebony, inlaid ivory, cane and lac. Museum purchase made possible by an anonymous donor, 2001. AE85784.

      Tea caddy, ca. 1740–1780. Rosewood, ivory, gold, silver, enamel, mica. Museum purchase. © Peabody Essex Museum.

      Tea caddy, ca. 1740–1780. Rosewood, ivory, gold, silver, enamel, mica. Museum purchase. © Peabody Essex Museum.

      George Chinnery, Portrait of Harriet Low, painted 1833. Oil on canvas. Museum purchase made possible by The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund and Joan Vaughan Ingraham. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Mark Sexton/PEM.

      George Chinnery, Portrait of Harriet Low, painted 1833. Oil on canvas. Museum purchase made possible by The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund and Joan Vaughan Ingraham. © Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Mark Sexton/PEM.

      Artists in Guangzhou, China, Chinese wallpaper (detail), about 1800. Originally installed in Strathallan Castle, Perthshire, Scotland, by James Drummond. Opaque watercolor on mulberry paper. Museum purchase in honor of William R. Sargent, made possible by

      Artists in Guangzhou, China, Chinese wallpaper (detail), about 1800. Originally installed in Strathallan Castle, Perthshire, Scotland, by James Drummond. Opaque watercolor on mulberry paper. Museum purchase in honor of William R. Sargent, made possible by the Lee and Juliet Folger Fund and an anonymous donor, 2006. AE86556.A-S.

      Artists in Jingdezhen, China, Charger with the Okeover family coat of arms, 1740 or 1743. Porcelain. Museum purchase made possible by an anonymous donor, 1987. E82042.

      Artists in Jingdezhen, China, Charger with the Okeover family coat of arms, 1740 or 1743. Porcelain. Museum purchase made possible by an anonymous donor, 1987. E82042.

      Vest (Japan), 18th century. Gilding, gilt, paint, wool, leather, chintz. Museum purchase. © Peabody Essex Museum.

      Vest (Japan), 18th century. Gilding, gilt, paint, wool, leather, chintz. Museum purchase. © Peabody Essex Museum.

      ...touches on truths at once particular and universal, inspiring and sobering.”
      — Wall Street Journal
      Curator Karina Corrigan
      Play

      Curator Interview

      Karina Corrigan, PEM's H.A. Crosby Curator of Asian Export Art, discusses the exhibition.

      Asian Export Art exhibition video
      Play

      The Lasting Legacy of the Opium Trade

      The transcultural objects in this galley demonstrate the beauty and ingenuity that can be created through blending artistic traditions, materials and technologies. The new installation includes a centrally located video that addresses a darker side of the story, the uncomfortable truth that many of these works of art were originally purchased with profits derived from the illegal opium trade. During the 1800s, millions of Indian and Chinese lives were devastated by opium, a foreshadowing of today’s opioid crisis.

      Virtual Gallery Tour

      Click the image to embark on a 360° tour of the Asian Export Art gallery. Just click on the rings to move throughout the space and use your mouse or keyboard to zoom in/out and to look all around.

      Augustus the Strong
      Play

      Augustus the Strong Interactive

      The ridiculous story of Augustus the Strong ties to one of the overall themes of this installation, that desire, obsession, and greed have fueled our complex global economy for centuries. Watch this video that uses tongue-in-cheek dark humor to tell the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story of Augustus the Strong’s obsession for Chinese porcelain, his imprisonment of the alchemist Johann Böttger, and the eventual founding of the Meissen manufactory in Germany.

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