Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The Karlbeck Syndicate 1930-1934 : collecting and scholarship on Chinese art in Sweden and Britain
Author: Jurgens, Valérie A. M.
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2010
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
History of archaeology, not merely archaeology itself, has become an important subject in contemporary scholarship. An investigation of The Karlbeck Syndicate (1930-1934), a collector’s group that primarily focussed on the collecting and studying of early Chinese art, is based on primary archival research. The syndicate included some of Europe’s most prominent private collectors and significant national institutions at that time. This study analyses original, hitherto unpublished, archival data provided by a set of archives at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum. The mechanics of this interesting and some-what secretive collector’s group provides a contextual understanding of how Chinese collections were formed in this defined period in Western history and in the study of Chinese archaeology in Sweden and Britain. The syndicate is named after Orvar Karlbeck (1879-1967). This thesis focuses on his collecting method and pioneering scholarship in the then developing field of Chinese art and archaeology in Sweden. Together with Johan Gunnar Andersson (1874-1960) and Gustaf Adolf of Sweden (1882-1973) he played an undeniable role in the foundation of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. At the time a group of Bronze Age objects formed a novel collecting and study subject and also had just started to appear on the art market. This thesis examines the institutional and intellectual framing of these objects in the discipline of Chinese art and archaeology in Sweden and Britain. A close-knit group of Western specialists of Chinese art are deliberated. They were all connected to the Karlbeck Syndicate and its organisers; including Andersson and Karlbeck in Sweden and Perceval W. Yetts (1878- 1957), Robert L. Hobson (1872-1941) and Charles G. Seligman (1873-1940) in Britain. The aim of this study is not to provide an art historical but a historical analysis of the major players and theoretical orientations that they depended on. I will consider approaches on the evolution of stylistic development at that time and how this affected the display and institutionalisation of the objects. Moreover, it examines the different methodologies used to classify and categorise the non-Western objects within Western scholarship, including the so called comparative method. The intellectual background under which the syndicate operated was guided by some diffusionist concepts within the study of Chinese art and archaeology at that time. This debate is still playing a part in the current study of Chinese archaeology. Overall this study is based on the examination of archival material and will throw new light on a lesser known history of collecting and lay foundations to future research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral