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date: 23 September 2019

Karlbeck, Orvarlocked

(b 1879; d Sept 20, 1967).
  • S. J. Vernoit

Extract

(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 (...

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