Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Immortal Stone - Jade in Cambridge

I spent a couple of days in Cambridge the other week visiting a mate who’s decided to sit out the recession doing a Phd which seems a fairly smart thing to do. He arranged for me to stay at Darwin College which is nice as i) the rooms are good; ii) it’s the old boys bicentenary and I’m a fan of Darwin rather than of God and; iii) they have one of the best and latest student bars in Cambridge – showing Darwin’s superior intelligence yet again!

While there I spent an afternoon in the Fitzwilliam Museum which, despite repeated visits to Cambridge over the years, I’d never set foot in before. It’s a beautiful building (above) with quite spectacular domes inside making it worth a visit for the architecture alone (and it’s free). I also wanted to visit as they have an exhibition of Chinese jades on at the moment (see below) and a permanent exhibition of some very good Korean ceramics (see later post).

The Immortal Stone: Chinese Jades from the Neolithic Period to the 20th Century runs at the Fitzwilliam until May 31st. There are some great pieces including jade objets designed for funerals and ritual ceremonies, animal sculptures and luxury utensils from the Ming and Qing dynasties. There are also some fun fake jade pieces from the 19th and 20th centuries and anyone visiting a market in China will know about fake jade.

The exhibition coincides with the Fitzwilliam’s publication of a new catalogue of the museum’s extensive jade collection, also called The Immortal Stone.


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