China collection

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About this collection

The China collections at World Museum are a legacy of the imperial maritime networks that Liverpool was an important part of during the nineteenth century. There are 2,750 items in the collection, including textiles, furniture, domestic objects, ceramics and metalwork.

The particular strengths of the collection lie in ceramics, metalwork, furniture, Imperial textiles and nineteenth and twentieth century domestic items. Of particular significance is a group of five large Ming dynasty bronzes taken from the pilgrimage island, Putuo, during the Opium Wars (see Louise Tythacott, The Lives of Chinese Objects). We continue to add to our collections. In 2010, over 350 pieces of well¬ provenanced dress and textiles from the Miao peoples of Southwest China were purchased with funding from The Art Fund. Dating from the 1950s to 2010, it is a remarkable study in the changes currently taking place in this community.

A number of important collectors are represented in the collections, including Jane Weightman, Douglas Crawford and William Kinder. Their interests in Song dynasty ceramics, cloisonné, and silk textiles means that National Museums Liverpool has very fine collections in these areas.

The China Trade collection (objects made in China for export to Europe and North America) is of outstanding importance and a unique record of Liverpool’s maritime connections with China. It includes ceramics, furniture and metalwork. We can trace many of the objects in the Dorothy Worrall Collection back to well-known Liverpool families who were involved in Liverpool’s maritime trade with China, including the Holts and the de Larrinagas. This collection is comparable with the renowned China Trade material at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, U.S.A.