Oceania (3)

Nicholas Thomas, one of the co-curators of Oceania, mentioned that objects from the Pacific Islands were included in an exhibition of ‘The Art of Primitive Peoples’ held by the Burlington Fine Arts Club in their premises at 17, Savile Row, in 1935.   I was intrigued.   The Burlington Fine Arts Club was a private club which devoted itself to holding small-scale specialist exhibitions, mainly of Old Master paintings, prints and Chinese ceramics, but in the 1920s and 1930s, they branched out, beginning with an exhibition of ‘Objects of Indigenous American Art’ in 1920 and a broader representation of artefacts by what were still described, anachronistically, as Primitive Peoples in 1935.   The loans came not just from the holdings of the dealer, William Oldman, sold in 1948 to the New Zealand government, but also, as Thomas mentioned, from the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge.   One of its curators was Adrian Digby, who had joined the Department of Oriental Antiquities and Ethnography in 1932 and helped establish the Museum of Mankind before his retirement in 1969.

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