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S. J. Vernoit

(b 1879; d Sept 20, 1967).

Swedish collector and art historian. After graduating as a civil engineer in 1904 from the Royal College of Engineering in Stockholm, he travelled to China in 1906, where he worked first as a superintendent of reinforced concrete construction and then, from 1908, as a section engineer for the Tientsin–Pukow (Tianjin–Pukou) Railway Company. As objects of art were frequently discovered during the construction of railways, Karlbeck soon became interested in Chinese archaeology and art and formed an important collection of early Chinese bronzes. When the Swedish Crown Prince, later King Gustav VI Adolf, who was himself a collector and connoisseur of Chinese art, visited Pukow in 1926, he was greatly impressed by the collection, which was purchased and brought to Sweden. This began Karlbeck’s new career as a buyer of Chinese art for museums and private collectors. In 1927 he gave up his railway work because of political disturbances in China and returned to Sweden. The following year, however, he returned to China to acquire Chinese art objects. The visit was so successful that he made a further three journeys to China on behalf of museums and private collectors. The objects he acquired included a large number of bronzes of the Shang (...


Robert W. Kramer

Alcove for seating or decorative display in a traditional Japanese room. In the Kamakura period (1185–1333) this space was set aside for the display of devotional objects in a Buddhist monastic setting; typically a hanging scroll or scrolls were placed on the rear wall of the space and a candle, flowerpot and incense burner in front. Monks would recite sūtras in a hall where this altar-like setting was the main decoration. At different times the tokonoma was used for a variety of other purposes. The space was sometimes two-thirds the width of a major audience chamber, and a section of its floor was raised above the rest of the room, in some cases by up to 200 mm. It was therefore a suitable place of honour, where high-ranking warriors and aristocrats sat to give audiences to their social inferiors. The tokonoma was commonly found in rooms in the ...