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UCL-NHM Chinese Export Watercolours (CEW) Project

A collaborative project on the NHM John Reeves Chinese Export Watercolours collection 1812-1830

UCL-NHM Chinese Export Watercolours (CEW) Project

The University College London (UCL) and Natural History Museum (NHM) Chinese Export Watercolours (CEW) project is a collaborative project co-led by Jin Gao, Lecturer in Digital Archives at UCL, and Andrea Hart, Library Special Collections Manager and Head of Special Collections and Archives Division at NHM. It involves staff from both institutions and students from the MA/MSc Digital Humanities programme as their work placements.

The John Reeves collection at NHM brings together a unique selection of botanical, zoological, and entomological drawings depicting the natural history of China (Whitehead and Edwards, 1974). Commissioned and collected by John Reeves and his son from 1812 to 1830, these outstanding paintings are important not only for their striking beauty and accuracy, but also for their scientific significance during that time (Magee, 2011).

The Phase I of the project has been carried out during May 2024, and it focuses on the cataloguing and digitisation of the Museum's John Reeves botanical drawings collection which comprises 1,057 original watercolour paintings of Chinese plants undertaken by Chinese artists under the direction of John Reeves (1774-1856) in the early nineteenth century.

 

The Team

Jin Gao

Jin Gao

Lecturer in Digital Archives, UCL
 

Karoline Hansen

Karoline Hansen

MA Student in Digital Humanities, UCL
 

Andrea Hart

Andrea Hart

Library Special Collections Manager, NHM

Kunwei He

Kunwei He

MA student in Digital Humanities, UCL
 

Rebecca Keddie

Rebecca Keddie

Digital Special Collections Librarian, NHM

Charlotte Mang

Charlotte Mang

MA student in Digital Humanities, UCL
 

image_20240611204254.jpg

Jon Nicholls

Digitisation Technician, NHM
 

Ruirui Sun

Ruirui Sun

MA student in Digital Humanities, UCL
 

Jinghang Zhang

Jinghang Zhang

MA student in Digital Humanities, UCL
 

Project Output

The project will result in below outcomes:

  • Updated collection catalogue and digital assets on the NHM website accessible as teaching and research materials for all.
  • A blog at UCL DIS website jointly written by the project team, introducing the cataloguing and digitisation practice that helps uncover the stories and cultural significance of the NHM CEW collection.
  • A public presentation at UCL to disseminate the research findings, among a wider audience interested in art, natural history and science, and the history of cultural interactions between Britain and China.
  • More to follow

References

  • Judith Magee. (2011) Chinese Art and the Reeves Collection: Images of Nature. Natural History Museum.
  • P.J.P. Whitehead and P.I. Edwards. (1974) Chinese natural history drawings: selected from the Reeves Collection in the British Museum (Natural History). The British Museum (Natural History).

See Also