CONF Dec 5, 2023

From Cabinets to Museums (Erfurt, 10-11 Jan 24)

Gotha Research Centre of the University of Erfurt, Jan 10–11, 2024

Emily Teo

From Cabinets to Museums: Exploring the Histories of Chinese Collections in Europe.
An international workshop at the Gotha Research Centre of the University of Erfurt, in cooperation with Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha.

Organised by Emily Teo (Gotha Research Centre)

Chinese objects were acquired by European collectors for a variety of reasons: ranging from the aesthetic decoration of their residences, to using objects as a source of knowledge about foreign cultures. The workshop brings together historians and museum professionals to discuss the complex histories of Chinese collections in European contexts. Central to the workshop is the East Asian collection in Gotha. Around 1800, Duke August of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1772-1822) founded the Chinese Cabinet, a rich and diverse collection of East Asian objects in Gotha’s Friedenstein Palace.

Themes that will be explored include the global circulation of artwork, China-Mode in eighteenth century Europe, and the practices of collecting and displaying Chinese objects in European collections. The goal of the workshop is to historicize these collections and to explore their interconnections, leading to new directions for research on East Asian collections in Europe.



1100-1200: Tour of the Ducal Museum*
Agnes Strehlau (Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha)

1400-1415: Greeting
Martin Mulsow (Gotha Research Centre, University of Erfurt)
Tobias Pfeifer-Helke (Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha)

1415-1430: Introduction
Emily Teo (Gotha Research Centre)

SESSION 1: Historical Collections
1430-1505: Jean Theodore Royer (1737-1807) and his Chinese collection: Thoughts on his Objectives and Collecting Strategies
Jan van Campen (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

1505-1540: Noblesse Oblige
Francois Coulon (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes)

1540-1600: Coffee Break

1615-1730: Viewing East Asian Artefacts*
Kerstin Volker-Saad/ Agnes Strehlau (Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha)

1800-1900: Traces of Guangzhou: Craftsmanship, Material (Dis)Connections and Chinesische Kabinette
Anna Grasskamp (University of Oslo)

1900: Workshop Dinner for invited participants


0930-1045: Viewing Chinese Export Albums*
Ulrike Eydinger (Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha)

1100-1115: Coffee Break

SESSION 2: Transcultural Objects

1115-1150: Gemstone Potted Landscapes: a Case Study for Exploring the 18th and 19th Century China-Europe Transcultural Materiality and
Wen-ting Wu (National Taiwan University)

1150-1225: From "18 Stuck grose Vasen" to "national wertvolles Kulturgut": Chinese Monumental Vases and the History of Chinese Art History at the Dresden Porcelain Collection
Feng Schöneweiß (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut)

1225-1315: Lunch Break

SESSION 3: Chinese Architecture for European Princes

1315-1350: Chinese architecture at the Friedenstein Palace: Henri-Léonard Bertin, Herzog August von Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg and the influence of the drawings from l'Essai sur l'architecture chinoise (1773)
Kee Il Choi Jr (University of Zürich)

1350-1425: Just For Decoration or Made for Pedagogical Purposes? Murals with Scenes from the Life of Confucius in Oranienbaum Commissioned by Duke Franz of Anhalt-Dessau (1740–1817)
Dorothee Schaab-Hanke (University of Bamberg)

1425-1500: Think Big - Augustus the Strong and his Collections of Asiatica
Cordula Bischoff (Independent Researcher)

1500: Final Remarks and Close of Workshop

*The workshop presentations and evening lecture at the Gotha Research Centre are open to the public with registration. The museum tour and object workshops are only open to workshop speakers due to space constraints. Object workshops will be held at the Perthes Forum (A 10 minute walk from the Gotha Research Centre).

Registration and Contact:

CONF: From Cabinets to Museums (Erfurt, 10-11 Jan 24). In:, Dec 5, 2023 (accessed Jul 23, 2024), <>.