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Porcelain and Revolution


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Porcelain and Revolution
Johan Munthe and the Chinese Collection in Bergen

Johan W.N. Munthe (1864-1935) lived an intrepid life in China during a period of upheaval and rebellion. He was a general in the Emperor s army, then, after the fall of the empire, an adviser to the Chinese Ministry of War during the early years of the republic. All the while, he was building up a massive collection of art objects, most of which he eventually donated to the West Norway Museum of Decorative Art in the town of his birth: Bergen, Norway. Today, the museum and Munthe's magnificent bequest - the Chinese collection - are part of KODE Art Museums and Composer Homes.

In Porcelain and Revolution, Jorunn Haakestad introduces us to the life of this fascinating man. Drawing on new sources, she adds further dimensions to Munthe's story, presenting him not just as a soldier and art collector, but also as a bank director, amateur poet, and religious contemplative. Thus she brings us closer to answering the enigma of who Johan W.N. Munthe really was.

Jorunn Haakestad (born 1950) is an art historian with a PhD from the University of Bergen. From 1997 to 2007 she was director of the West Norway Museum of Decorative Art. Since the museum became part of KODE - Art Museums and Composer Homes, she has been principal conservator, with responsibility for the China collection. Jorunn Haakestad has contributed essays to many exhibition catalogues and specialist journals, and has edited several books on arts and crafts. Her recent book, Gifts. Permanenten West Norway Museum of Decorative Art 1887-2012, 125 years (2012), was published in both Norwegian and English.

Porcelain and Revolution