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Prof. Shelagh VAINKER

Curator of Chinese Art
Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford (Oxford)

Fellowship Project

Prof. Shelagh Vainker spent six months at the Capital Museum in Beijing, China where she researched the museum’s ceramic collection and engaged in exchange with Chinese museums.


Prof. Shelagh Vainker is Curator of Chinese Art at the Ashmolean Museum, U.K. She is also Associate Professor at the University of Oxford. Prof. Vainker previously served as Curator of Chinese Ceramics and Textiles at the British Museum and President of the Oriental Ceramic Society. She has published widely on Chinese art including books on ceramics and silk, articles on many aspects of the material culture of the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127), and a series of collection and exhibition catalogues on modern Chinese paintings. She is responsible for three galleries in the Ashmolean: the permanent galleries China 3000BC – AD800 and China from AD800, and the Khoan and Michael Sullivan Gallery for Chinese Painting which shows two paintings exhibitions each year. She is the literary executor of the estate of the late Professor Michael Sullivan.

Recent Development and Achievement

    Prof. Shelagh Vainker curated the exhibition Lui Shou-Kwan Centenary Exhibition: Abstraction, Ink and Enlightenment at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in 2018. She is currently working on a book on Song ceramics collections.

Selected Publication(s)

Books and exhibition catalogues

  • Vainker, S. J. (2016). Liu Dan: New Landscapes and Old Masters. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum Publications.
  • Vainker, S. J., & Chen, Y. (2015). Fang Zhaoling (1914–2005): A Centenary Exhibition. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum Publications.
  • Vainker, S. J., Xu, B., Goldman, J., McDonald, P. D., & Ashmolean Museum,. (2013). Landscape/landscript: Nature as language in the art of Xu Bing. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology.
  • Vainker, S. J. (2004). Chinese silk: A cultural history. London: British Museum.
  • Vainker, S. J. (1997). Chinese pottery and porcelain: From prehistory to the present. London: British Museum Press.

Book chapters

  • Vainker, S. J. (2017). Chinese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. In Pejčochová, M., & von Spee, C., & Verlag, D. R. (Eds.), Modern Chinese painting & Europe: New perceptions, artists encounters, and the formation of collections. Berlin: Reimer.
  • Vainker, S. J. (2013). Lui Shou-kwan in England: the Contribution of Geoffrey Barker. In You, J. (Ed.), Two Masters, Two Generations, and One Vision for Modern Chinese Painting. Hong Kong: The Art Museum, Chinese University of Hong Kong.
  • Vainker, S. J. (2004). Chinesische Malerei der Gegenwart in London, 1935 [Modern Chinese Painting in London, 1935]. In Birnie, D. J., & Stuck, V. (Eds.), Shanghai modern 1919-1945. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz.
  • Vainker, S. J. (2003). Luxuries or not? Consumption of silk and porcelain in eighteenth-century China. In Berg, M. & Eger, E. (Eds), Luxury in the eighteenth century: Debates, desires and delectable goods. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Journal and conference articles

  • Vainker, S. J. (2012). Annales du musee national des arts asiatiques Guimet et du musee Cernuschi, Cahiers de l’Ecole francaise d’Extreme-Orient [Fu Baoshi in Chongqing: Some Paintings in European Collections, Arts Asiatiques]. Tome, 67, pp. 89–96.
  • Vainker, S. J. (2012). ‘Northern Song Lacquer’. In The Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Eds.), 中國漆器研討會論文集 [Proceedings of Conference on Ancient Chinese Lacquer], 21–30.
  • Vainker, S. J. (2009). Owning ceramics in the Northern Song dynasty: thoughts on who and how. Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, 74, 103–12.
  • Vainker, S. J. (2008). Ceramic consumption in Northern Sung China: the case of the educated urbanite. In Wang, Y. T. (Ed.), 開創典籍︰北宋的藝術與文化研討會論文集 [Conference on Founding Paradigms: Papers on the Art and Culture of the Northern Sung Dynasty, Taipei, National Palace Museum], 77–95.
  • Vainker, S. J. (2005). Northern Song white wares in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. In Li Zhongmou (Ed.), Proceedings of Conference on White Ware Ceramics, Shanghai (Shanghai Museum), 506–18.