January 4, 2021

George HW Bush, China and Chinese Art

By:
Lark Mason, Jr.

George HW Bush passed away in 2018 and was the 41st President of the United States of America but prior to this had a long and distinguished career in the oil business in Texas and then later as the Chief of the Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China, serving from 1974-1976. During this stint George and his wife Barbara lived in Beijing and while there as the first envoy to China they experienced life within Beijing much as it was experienced by the citizens of the capital city.

His tenure, effectively making him the American Ambassador, lasted 15 months and established his connections with China that lasted throughout his presidency and subsequent years.

Among the items that he retained from that experience were items given to him or purchased in the antique markets of Beijing. Two famille rose porcelain bowls and an iron-red porcelain bowl decorated in a lotus pattern were made during the late Qing dynasty and were typical of tablewares for an upscale Chinese family. The images on the bowls reference the eight immortals and carry a general sense of goodwill and success. The connection with China extended beyond diplomacy into a strong appreciation for Chinese culture, seen in these mementos from his official stay during the mid-1970s.

Three Chinese Export Porcelain Bowls, Letters, and Photographs from George and Barbara Bush
Available on iGavel Auctions until January 7, 2021