A Perpetual Fire: John C. Ferguson and His Quest for Chinese Art and Culture

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It was a time of rapid and radical change, and he tried to be the center of it all. At the beginning of the 20th Century, museums started to embrace Asian art, and more specifically Chinese art. But what categorized Chinese art? What made a particular piece Chinese and also art at the same time? It generally could not be judged based on the old European styles, they were so radically different. In would step John Ferguson, a former missionary turned art dealer. He would help bring the ideal of Chinese art to Western audiences, and help explain it to academics as well, who had a limited exposure to Chinese art. What helped was that John Ferguson was also from America, so his audience would understand him.

This book examines the life and career of John Ferguson; his triumphs, ups and downs, and troubles with a rapidly changing China. How he first started collecting Chinese art, and then used that collection to spread his thoughts around the world. The book is decent; it just gets bogged down in names, collections and museums. It tries to follow his life chronologically and thematically; and like many others it just misses the mark.


Reviewed By:

Author Lara Jaishree Netting
Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 304 pages
Publisher Hong Kong University Press
Publish Date 2013-Oct-22
ISBN 9789888139187
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue February 2014
Category History
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