In Good Com­pany

In bring­ing to­gether su­perb an­tiques from France and China, a unique ex­hi­bi­tion at the Liang Yi Mu­seum high­lights re­mark­able par­al­lels in in­spi­ra­tion and ex­e­cu­tion, writes

Hong Kong Tatler - - Life -

t’s a pair­ing 300 years in the mak­ing: Paris-based Krae­mer Gallery and Hong Kong’s Liang Yi Mu­seum have teamed up to pro­duce Great Minds Think Alike, an un­prece­dented ex­hi­bi­tion of 17th- and 18th-cen­tury fur­ni­ture from France’s An­cien Régime and China’s Qing Dy­nasty. It’s the most sig­nif­i­cant ef­fort to date to show­case th­ese an­tique pieces side by side and it re­veals some sur­pris­ing similarities be­tween the works pro­duced by two very dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

In the Liang Yi Mu­seum’s up­stairs gallery, direc­tor Lynn Fung pulls open a slid­ing door to re­veal just such an ex­am­ple: a pair of 18th-cen­tury lac­quered cab­i­nets, one French, one Chi­nese, both painted with scenes of the Chi­nese coun­try­side. “This is one of the com­par­isons where the similarities are a bit more ob­vi­ous,” she says. “It’s a very tra­di­tion­ally Chi­nese cabi­net but there are hints of West­ern in­flu­ence.” She opens the draw­ers, which are dec­o­rated with pat­terns of flow­ers. “If you’re familiar with the Chi­nese way of do­ing things, you’ll know that’s not com­mon at all. Nor­mally, what is hid­den is left un­fin­ished. It’s ob­vi­ous where the French were in­flu­enced by the Chi­nese, but it’s a two-way street—you just have to look a lit­tle harder in the other di­rec­tion.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion’s par­al­lels run be­yond the fur­ni­ture. Both

Christo­pher Dewolf

Fung and Krae­mer Gallery direc­tor Mikael Krae­mer rep­re­sent the lat­est gen­er­a­tion to con­tinue their fam­i­lies’ pas­sion for an­tique fur­ni­ture. In Paris, Krae­mer’s great-great­grand­fa­ther, Lu­cien, opened his first an­tique fur­ni­ture shop in 1875. Some of his first clients in­cluded mem­bers of the Roth­schild and Ca­mondo fam­i­lies; more re­cently, Forbes mag­a­zine de­scribed the fam­ily’s gallery as “the bil­lion­aire’s IKEA.” In Hong Kong, Fung’s fa­ther, in­vest­ment banker Peter, spent decades amass­ing a col­lec­tion of Chi­nese fur­ni­ture be­fore open­ing the Liang Yi Mu­seum to show­case it.

Krae­mer al­ways knew he would fol­low in his fam­ily’s foot­steps. “I like to joke that I was born in a chest of draw­ers,” he says. “I could have been a singer, a foot­ball player, a politi­cian, but art and phi­lan­thropy are my two pas­sions.” Even as a teenager he en­joyed vis­it­ing mu­se­ums and was fas­ci­nated by the his­tory of each of his fam­ily’s an­tiques. “Friends would visit our house and ask me ques­tions about the an­tiques, and I didn’t want to look stupid, so I had to know how to an­swer.”

It was a less ob­vi­ous path for Fung. “We used to live with all of th­ese fur­ni­ture pieces in our home, so we grew up with it,” she says. “My fa­ther would try to sneak­ily feed me in­for­ma­tion. Af­ter a num­ber of years, it fil­ters in and be­fore you know it, I de­vel­oped this love for fur­ni­ture I didn’t even know was there.” When

A stand­ing screen made from zi­tan frames an early Louis XVI fire screen

dual per­spec­tive

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