Jan Stuart

Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Chinese Art

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Jan Stuart, curator of Chinese art

Jan Stuart is the first Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Chinese Art. She assumed the post when she returned to the Freer|Sackler in 2014, after serving as Keeper of Asia (department head) at the British Museum since 2006. There, in addition to senior management responsibilities and supervising and curating exhibitions, she took the lead on creating new galleries for the Sir Percival David collection of Chinese ceramics and for Chinese paintings. Previously, Stuart had served as a curator of Chinese art at the Freer|Sackler, where she came after holding a Mellon Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She earned degrees from Princeton and Yale Universities, specializing in Chinese art, language, and culture.

Today, Stuart works broadly in the area of Chinese art, with a special focus on ceramics, decorative arts, textiles, and court arts, including paintings, from the Song through Qing dynasty. Her Freer|Sackler exhibitions and related publications (some coauthored) include Challenging the Past: The Paintings of Chang Dai-chien (1991), Joined Colors: Decoration and Meaning in Chinese Porcelain (1993), Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits (2001), Return of the Buddha: Qingzhou Sculptures (2004), and Red: Ming Dynasty/Mark Rothko (2017). For the Freer|Sackler’s 2017 reopening, she was responsible for new displays of artworks from the Song through Qing. Currently she is cocurating and coediting with Daisy Wang the exhibition and book Empresses of China’s Forbidden City, 1644–1912, coorganized with the Peabody Essex Museum (Salem) and the Palace Museum (Beijing). Actively involved in museum acquisitions, Stuart also publishes regularly and serves on editorial boards for Ars Orientalis and Arts of Asia.

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