Event Details

WHAT: "Pearls and Fisheyes: A New Take on Fakes" by art historian Alfreda Murck, an RASBJ online talk followed by Q&A

WHEN: Jan. 18, 2023, Wednesday, 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM Beijing Standard Time

MORE ABOUT THE EVENT: In the first decades of the twentieth century, Reverend DuBois Schanck Morris, while serving as a Presbyterian minister in Anhui Province, acquired almost 500 Chinese paintings. As a novice collector, he purchased some painting purportedly by famous masters that proved to be fake (a circumstance that befell collectors more knowledgeable than Rev. Morris). His collection, which he donated to Princeton University in the 1940s, is a case study of the techniques used to enhance paintings for the market. These techniques included reattributing paintings to famous scholars by changing or effacing the original signature, adding seals of prestigious collectors, repackaging scrolls with new labels, and creating testimonials of authenticity. Some outright forgeries in the collection demonstrate the useful concept of "functional authenticity": accepting a spurious work in the style of a master because it fits expectations. Despite the dubious paintings—and partly because of them—the DuBois Schanck Morris collection is an important resource for research and exhibition.

HOW MUCH: This event is free for RASBJ members; RMB 50 for members of partner RAS branches; RMB 100 for non-members. Interested in becoming an RASBJ member? Please sign up at https://rasbj.org/membership/

HOW TO JOIN THE EVENT: Please click "Register" or "I will Attend" and follow the instructions. After successful registration you'll receive a confirmation email with a link to join the event. If you seem not to have received it, please check your spam folder.

Members of partner RAS Branches: Please register 72 hours in advance to allow time for membership verification. You'll received three emails from us: the first confirming receipt of your registration request, the second requesting payment, and the third confirming receipt of your payment, with a link to join the event. Please check your spam folder to ensure you see all RASBJ emails.

NOTE: The banner image is a spurious attribution to the Yuan dynasty master Zhao Mengfu, Judging a Horse (Xiang ma tu 相馬圖), undated; 17th–18th century.


  • Alfreda Murck (Speaker)

    Alfreda Murck


    An historian of Chinese visual culture, Alfreda Murck specializes in the history and symbolism of Chinese painting. She lived in Beijing with her husband Christian from 1997 to 2013. During that time, she taught in the History Department at Peking University, at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, and worked in the IT Department of the Palace Museum. On weekends, she frequented flea markets, assembling collections of vernacular teapots, quilt covers, and Cultural Revolution collectibles. She earned her PhD at Princeton University and currently teaches at Columbia University in New York.

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  • Melinda Liu (Moderator)

    Melinda Liu


    Melinda Liu is a U.S. foreign correspondent in Beijing, co-director of the documentary “Doolittle Raiders: A China Story”, and witness to some of Freda Murck's fleamarket forays.

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