The increasing interest in and understanding of Chinese Art is evidenced by the remarkable development in the last two or three decades in the published works on the subject, which now disposes of a literature that has attained considerable proportions in remarkable ramifications. Works have appeared both in the Orient and Occident, in various languages, ranging from cursory handbooks of a general character to elaborate monographs on special aspects of the subject and expensive de luxe catalogues devoted to the illustration of important private collections.
It is the intention in the present volume to steer a middle course by providing an informative yet popular introduction to the study of this vast kingdom, which shall deal briefly with the historical side and indicate the chief types which have been produced in its main divisions, in a series of well-illustrated essays contributed by some of the foremost authorities on their subject. This plan, though it might be thought to have slight theoretical drawbacks, is attended with substantial advantages, because the growth of knowledge makes a comprehensive survey of the whole subject beyond the scope of any one scholar, and it is obvious that economic conditions preclude for the present the undertaking of a monumental work, which undoubtedly the importance and achievements of Chinese Art would warrant.
The present work is based upon the Burlington Magazine Monograph entitled "Chinese Art," issued in 1925, long since out of print and at a decided premium. In preparing this new edition the main lines of the earlier work have been followed. Thus Mr. Laurence Binyon, late of the British Museum, has written on Painting; Dr. Osvald Sirén on Sculpture; Mr. Bernard Rackham, Keeper of the Department of Ceramics at the Victoria and Albert Museum, is responsible for Pottery and Porcelain; and Mr. A. F. Kendrick, late of the Victoria and Albert Museum, for the survey of Textiles. It was most unfortunate that Dr. W. Perceval Yetts, who rendered invaluable help in the preparation of the former volume, was on this occasion unable to revise his article on Bronzes for the present issue. Dr. Sirén, also, through absence in the Far East, could not give his article the revision which his views on the evolution of Chinese Sculpture now require. Mr.W.W.Winkworth has prepared an entirely fresh article on Bronzes, with which he has incorporated in rewritten form the section he contributed to the Monograph on the Minor Arts--Jade, Enamels, Lacquer, etc. The articles on Painting, Ceramics, and Textiles have been revised by their authors, and the bibliographies brought up to date and one or two others added. A number of the original illustrations have been utilized, while advantage has been taken of the opportunity to introduce numerous fresh examples, and largely, to increase the plates in colour by the inclusion of an important series on Ceramics, Textiles, Bronzes and Lacquer from the Lady Lever collection, the Leonard Gow collection, and from various Continental Museums and other sources. It has been felt that, however illuminating the text, the most enlightening and satisfactory method of appreciating Chinese Art is by the study of comparative examples, and especially by presenting these in the beauty of their original colour, which it is possible to record to a large extent by modern methods of reproduction.
The format of the book has been altered to a more handy size, and advantage has been taken of the International Exhibition of Chinese Art at Burlington House to include a selection of the masterpieces there exhibited for the first time.