The Raffles Collection in London

Shadow puppet of the character Trigangga, son of Lord Hanuman the white monkey from the epic The Ramayana, Cirebon, western Java, late 1700s or early 1800s, hide, horn, fibre, pigment, gold leaf Β© Trustees of the British Museum

Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781-1826) spent most of his career as an East India Company official in Southeast Asia. He was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Java in 1811 and assumed the Lieutenant Governorship of Sumatra in 1818. Raffles is credited as… Continue reading


The classic Orientalist model of a palace guard was Sub-Saharan and unquestionably masculine, as in this vision by Fabres y Costa

There is an abundance of ambiguity in Orientalist art. For Edward Said, a scholar of literature and music rather than the visual arts, those 19th-century Western paintings were distressingly black and white – or brownish and white. The artists were,… Continue reading

Li Shan: Chinese Contemporary Art

Li Shan in front of a work in progress from his Reading series, at his Lingang New City studio, an aspiring satellite city of Shanghai, in May 2019. Photo by Michael Young

There was a moment in Kurt Neumann’s classic 1958 sci-fi horror movie, The Fly, when Vincent Price – the actor known for his roles in such films – delivered an introduction to the audience, β€˜It would be unfair … to… Continue reading