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Tracing Dispersal: Auction Sales from the Yuanmingyuan loot in Paris in the 1860s

Abstract : During the Second Opium War (1856-1860), British and French troops fought to expand their privileges in China. The war ended in Beijing in October 1860 with the looting and burning of the Yuanmingyuan, one of the official seats of the government of the Chinese Emperor to the northwest of the Chinese capital. Thousands of these objects - figures up to over a million have been suggested - were brought to Europe and are today in Western museums and private collections. While it is difficult to trace the marketing of the artefacts sold through dealers - due to the scarcity of available archives - public auction sales are easier to access. This paper provides a systematic review of all Parisian sales between 1861 and 1869 in which artefacts from the Imperial Summer Palace were sold. The corresponding catalogues were matched with the minutes of the sales - a specifically French source providing unique information on sellers, buyers and prices of the sold objets. The complete dataset with the description of artefacts and protagonists is available online
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Submitted on : Monday, November 2, 2020 - 9:39:26 PM
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Léa Saint-Raymond. Tracing Dispersal: Auction Sales from the Yuanmingyuan loot in Paris in the 1860s. Journal for Art Market Studies, Forum Kunstmarkt Cologne, 2018. ⟨hal-02986360⟩



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