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editorials - March - April 1996

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Following the fabulous special number on the collections of The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C., which initiated our 1996 twenty-sixth year of publishing, we follow now with the March-April 1996, Volume 26 Number 2 magazine. A general subject issue, with the widest of interest to the followers of Asian trends and traditions, this takes the readers to the arts in Asian countries in the comfort of their own homes - to India, Burma, Tibet, Mongolia, China, and Japan. What more could be asked for!

Incidentally, the articles on "Tibetan and Mongolian Tsampa Boxes" by Robert H. Sheeks, and on "Shalu", the monastery founded in 1027 A.D. in Central Tibet with extensive early frescoes, described by Hugo Kreijger, are especially timely as I have recently heard from Galerie Koller (Hardturmstrasse 102, CH-8031, Zurich, Switzerland) that their sale last November of art from Tibet and the Himalayan region was a great success. Important collectors from Switzerland, Germany, France, and England, strongly competed in the saleroom with collectors from America bidding by telephone. An elegant bronze figure of a Vajrasattva, Lot 18, (1) reached a fairly high price of SFr.51,750 (US$43,242). Lot 125, (2) an exceptional fourteenth century Tibetan thangka (roll-up religious painting, generally on cloth) of Milarepa also sold for SFr.51,750, while Lot 449, (3) an Indian miniature painting dated circa 1600 showing King Babur killing a rhinoceros, sold for SFr.16,240 (US$13,570).

I would like to take this opportunity to  stress for our supporters, and especially those who have more recently entered the Oriental antiques field, that ARTS OF ASIA is without doubt the very first magazine of its type to have been specifically founded to follow Asian art trends and their historical backgrounds. Do not believe claims you may hear being made by any other magazine which later followed our style with the purpose of "cashing in" on our undoubted success. For our success in publishing the magazine is based on consistent study and hard work in following as closely as possible the needs of our readers; I and my husband have been loyal to the magazine since its foundation in 1970, while our son Robin Markbreiter has worked with us at the magazine for five years and has gained valuable experience. He is undoubtedly an additional asset. There must be few if any publications, let alone art ones, that can boast of such continuity which benefits everybody.

It is ARTS OF ASIA that follows and covers the art market most closely, whether through reports on exhibitions, dealer and auction-house sales, society symposiums, or reviews of books on topical subjects. I have frequently been told that my own Editorials are eagerly read, as also are our Correspondence pages with letters from readers which stimulate lively discussion. Such features are rarely found in magazines today because of the amount of time involved in assembling them and the range of knowledge that is necessary.

Confidence in the magazine is indicated by those who contribute to it, whether Professors/Museum Directors, such as Ramesh Chandra Sharma of India; Curators such as Ka Bo Tsang of Canada; or authors such as Patrick Conner of the definitive work on Chinnery, who is associated with the Martyn Gregory gallery in London. I am delighted that he has written the cover article of this March-April magazine on our own extensive collection of China Coast paintings and prints formed in the past thirty years. It is a subject that, formerly overlooked, is now eagerly and widely collected, though works of merit are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

I would like to congratulate Patrick on his lively selection from our collection and illustrate here one of my particular favourites, (4) which he may either have overlooked or perhaps felt less appropriate, as the subject of this watercolour by Chinnery is an Indian village rather than a Chinese scene. My own feeling is that Chinnery was at his best as a miniaturist, whether with his pencil and ink sketches, or with watercolours such as this. I am also of the opinion that his Indian work is amongst his finest. Could it be that during his time in India he was happier than when living in the Far East? Having to support an Anglo-Indian family (possibly a considerably extended Indian one) as well as a first, more conventional family at "home", may have been a valid reason for the artist being constantly short of money, though I have not seen this suggested elsewhere. The precise nature of his relationship with the Tanka boat girl in Macau, who he portrayed often and so attractively, is also unknown.


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