This stunning two-volume book is the long-awaited catalogue of the exquisite collection of Ch'ing (Qing) dynasty imperial textiles and costumes from the collection of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This collection has a rich history. Approximately half of it belonged to the San Francisco attorney William E. Colby, who had amassed the collection throughout the opportunistic decades of the 1920's and 1930's, and was acquired by The Minneapolis Institute of Arts under the advice of Alfred Pillsbury. Now consisting of over 600 items, it is considered one of the finest and most comprehensive holdings of Ch'ing textiles outside of China.
Only a few works from the collection have been exhibited over the past six decades, including exhibitions at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1943 and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1945, both curated by Alan Priest. Not until 1977, the year in which the Asian Arts department of The Minneapolis Institute of arts was established, was the entire collection been systematically supplemented, researched, and catalogued.
The 1991 exhibition, Imperial Silks of the Ch'ing Dynasty, displayed more of the collection than ever before, and is the foundation of this present comprehensive catalogue written by Dr. Robert Jacobsen, the museum's curator of Asian Art. Imperial Silks opens with an overview of the archaeological record of silk in China and then divides the museum's collection of Ch'ing dynasty textiles into nine chapters of twenty-six basic categories of garments, decorative furnishings, and accessories. Arranged chronologically by type, about two hundred of the primary objects are accompanied by technical analysis. A glossary is also provided to clarify the terminology used for this study.
An indispensable reference for libraries, scholars, collectors, dealers, and interested individuals alike, this catalogue will further promote our understanding of Chinese silk textiles, one of that nation's great accomplishments and one of the world's foremost artistic legacies.