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T’ou Sè Wè Orphanage was the Birthplace of Chinese Modern Creative Arts

by Adrien von Ferscht (05/22/14).

Adrien von Ferscht, www.chinese-export-silver.com

A T’ou Sè Wè stained-glass triptych window.

That a Jesuit orphanage and school in Shanghai founded in the 19th century should be the cradle of modern creative art in China is extraordinary in itself, but it is firmly rooted in a significant Jesuit presence in China since the mid-17th century and the profound influence it had on the Imperial court.

The same influence was instrumental in creating many of China’s early 20th-century artists; an influence that even touched Madame Chang Kai-Chek and the Belgian creator of the Tintin character, Hergé. Combine this with the equally extraordinary Empress Dowager Cixi, who was the de-facto ruler of China and through whose influence and sheer determination of mind transformed her realm from being an ancient empire to a modern state—the Chinese Renaissance.

This is the world the T’ou Sè Wè orphanage and school in Shanghai found itself in; the Jesuit masters embraced the new renaissance, managing to create a force that produced China’s own distinctive version of Jugendstil—the bedrock of China’s age of modern art and the vast surge of creativity we are witnessing today.

WorthPoint’s Adrien von Ferscht presents a fascinating 450-year journey that culminated in one of China’s most unique educational institutions. Read the whole article on the Chines Export Silver website.


Adrien von Ferscht is an Honorary Research Fellow at University of Glasgow’s Scottish Centre for China Research, a Fellow for Arts & Culture at the Asia Scotland Institute and works with museums and universities around the world. He is a consultant for Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions and his ever-expanding website, Chinese Export Silver, is the largest online information resource on the subject. His new 250-page Third Edition of the “Collector’s Guide to Chinese Export Silver 1785-1940,” is the largest information reference resource for this unique silver category. The single purchase price acquires the Catalogue plus all subsequent editions free of charge. Adrien also encourages people to share images and ask questions at avf@chinese-export-silver.com“> avf@chinese-export-silver.com.

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