The Story of Elinor Gordon

The estate sale from the Elinor Gordon’s private collection in Sotheby’s maybe the last time for the public to own a piece of her label. Amassed mostly before she published her groundbreaking  book Collecting Chinese Export Porcelain in 1977, these more-than 200 porcelain pieces remained largely intact over the following years and not only reflect Mrs. Gordon’s astute connoisseurship but also are of historical significance.  Mrs. Gordon was one of the most important dealers in Chinese export porcelain who was instrumental in building some of the most important private and public collection in this field.

Here is a story from the book A Fragile Union the Story of Louise Herreshoff:

As a “show-stopper” Elinor had brought the large “Hong Bowl” from their personal collection, and when the determined collector, Louise Herreshoff Reeves from Providence, RI, espied it and inquired about the price, Elinor had to admit that “The bowl is not for sale. It belongs to my husband Horace.” Quietly, Mrs. Reeves replied, “Mrs. Gordon, any item on display in this show is for sale. How much is the bowl?” Elinor rushed to the telephone to call Horace, who sagely advised her, “This is your first major show, and it is important to establish an excellent reputation. Fix the price so outrageously high that she will not pursue the matter.” Elinor returned to the booth and informed Mrs. Reeves that the price was $1,500, whereupon Mrs. Reeves pulled fifteen $100 bills out of her purse, claimed her prize and departed immediately for the train to Providence, cradling the bowl on her lap for the entire trip.

Today the Hong Bowl is in the Reeves Collection at Washington and Lee University.

Ron W. Fuchs II,  curator of the Reeves Collection at the Washington and Lee University will give a lecture at 10:30AM  on Thursday, Jan 21, 2010.

About Hui

Wang Hui lived from 1632 – 1717 and followed in the footprints of his great grandfathers, grandfather, father and uncles and learned painting at a very early age. He was later taught by two contemporary masters, Zhang Ke and Wang Shimin, who taught him to work in the tradition of copying famous Chinese paintings. This is most likely the reason why critics claim that his work is conservative and reflects the Yuan and Song traditions. One critic claimed that “his landscape paintings reflect his nostalgic attachment to classical Chinese aesthetics. Along with the other Wangs, Wang Hui helped to perpetuate the tradition of copying the ancient masters rather than creating original work.


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