Eumorfopoulos George

(1863—1939) art collector

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(b. Liverpool, 18 April 1863; d. London, 19 Dec. 1939).

English collector. The eldest son of a Greek merchant, Eumorfopoulos worked for the merchant firm of Ralli Brothers. He initially collected European porcelains and Japanese tea bowls but then turned to Chinese objects, which became his largest collection, emphasizing pottery and porcelains. His second interest was metalwork, and he formed a fine collection of Chinese bronzes; he was also interested in other media, such as jade. He chose items based on his aesthetic response rather than archaeological or rarity value, and he thus placed himself at the forefront of Western taste for Chinese art. From 1924 he also began to acquire Islamic art and formed a separate Chinese collection for the Benaki Museum, Athens, so that the museum eventually had nearly 800 examples of Chinese pottery and porcelain. Eumorfopoulos was elected the first president of the Oriental Ceramic Society in 1921 and retained this position until his death, his house becoming central to the activities of the society. In 1935, having retired from Ralli Brothers the previous year, he visited the Far East to select objects for the Exhibition of Chinese Art (London, RA), in which his own collection also figured prominently. In the same year, the bulk of his Chinese collection—apart from items duplicated in the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum—was purchased by the British nation for £100,000 (about half the market value), and some of his remaining items were sold by Bluett and Sons. In the final years of his life, however, he continued to acquire Chinese and European art. He gave his books to the Courtauld Institute of Art, and his remaining collections were sold at Sotheby's on 28–31 May and 5–6 June 1940, and in 1944 after his widow's death.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.

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