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George Eumorfopoulos (Biographical details)

George Eumorfopoulos (collector; British; Male; 1863 - 1939)

Also known as

Eumorfopoulos, George; Eumorphopoulos, George

Address

7 Chelsea Embankment, London SW3

Biography

A great London collector of Chinese antiquities of all kinds; with a particular interest in Chinese ceramics; he was, in 1921, a co-founder (with R L Hobson of the BM, Stephen Winkworth and others) of the Oriental Ceramic Society. Popularly known as "Eumo". He formed two collections of Chinese Antiquities. Badly affected by the Depression in 1934, he sold a large part of the first collection to the BM and the V&A for the token sum of £100,000; the collection was divided in proportion to the sum each museum contributed to the purchase. He continued to add to the residue and this second collection was dispersed after his death, at auction at Sotheby's in May and June 1940. A final sale was held in 1944 after the death of his widow Julia Eumorfopoulos (q.v.). R.L.Hobson wrote an eleven volume catalogue on his collections, simply entitled 'The George Eumorfopoulos Collection' (London: Ernest Benn, 1925-32).
George Eumorfopoulos was the first president of the Oriental Ceramic Society (1921-1939), a member of the Burlington Fine Arts Club and the Royal Asiatic Society, a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a benefactor of the Egypt Exploration Society. He was a successful Greek tycoon working for the firm of Ralli Brothers; he retired in 1934. He started collecting in 1891, initially European and Japanese art, but soon focussed on Qing porcelain and then Han, Tang and Song ceramics. His extensive collection was added to with bronzes, jades, sculpture, painting, metal work, lacquer and glass; later Korean and Near Eastern material was also included. His collection was published in six folio volumes by R. L. Hobson, with a further two volumes by W. P. Yetts and another one by Laurence Binyon. He added a two-storey museum to the back of his house at Chelsea Embankment which he opened on Sundays. In 1933 he was responsible for enlarging the Oriental Ceramic Society to include all those interested in Oriental ceramics. He contributed many objects to the Royal Academy exhibition of 1935-6. In the 1930s he sold his collection to the British and Victoria and Albert Museums. He also gave a substantial number of ceramics to the Benaki Museum in Athens.
Member of the Karlbeck Syndicate (q.v.).
Publications: "Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society", vol. 10, 1931-32, pp. 10-12, coloured frontispiece; 'Ying-ch'ing, Ju and Ch'ai-yao', vol. 2, 1922-23, pp24-28.

Bibliography

DNB.
Anon., "The famous Eumorfopoulos treasure bought for the Nation for £100,000: gems from the greatest collection of its kind acquired on terms which amount to a gift", "The Illustrated London News", 12 January 1935, pp. 52-53; Jessica Harrison-Hall, "Catalogue of late Yuan and Ming Ceramics in the British Museum", 2001, p. 588 & 589; "Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society", vol. 17, 1939-1940, obituary, R. L. Hobson.; George Manginis, ‘The George Eumorfopoulos Donation to the Benaki Museum, Athens’, "Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society", vol 66, 2001-2002, pp 77 – 93.
Stacey Pierson, "Collectors, Collections and Museums: The Field of Chinese Ceramics in Britain 1560-1960", Bern 2007, pp 89, 91, 92, 103, 112, 113,116,117 – 164; Roy Davids and Dominic Jellinek, "PROVENANCE: Collectors, Dealers & Scholars: Chinese Ceramics in Britain & America, 2011, pp. 166-8; Pl. 54, p. 169; Percival Yetts, 'George Eumorfopoulos', "The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britian and Ireland", no.2, 1940, pp.253-258.