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S. J. Vernoit

(Noel)

(b London, Dec 25, 1881; d Wendover, Bucks, Feb 28, 1968).

English civil servant and collector of Islamic and Chinese art. The eldest son of Sir Thomas Barlow, royal physician and president of the Royal College of Physicians, he was educated at Marlborough and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In 1906 he was appointed to a clerkship in the House of Commons, by 1933 he was principal private secretary to the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, and from 1934 to 1948 he served at the Treasury. He began collecting Oriental ceramics in 1900 and started acquiring Islamic pottery five years later, amassing a comprehensive collection with a special emphasis on Ottoman and Iranian items within 20 years. He built up his collection of Chinese art in the early 1920s, when several British collectors led by George Eumorfopoulos acquired objects excavated in China. Barlow preferred early austere Chinese pottery with little polychrome decoration. During the 1920s and 1930s he also continued to acquire Islamic items, and some of his pieces were shown in ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Liverpool, April 18, 1863; d London, Dec 19, 1939).

English collector. The eldest son of a Greek merchant, Eumorfopoulos worked for the merchant firm of Ralli Brothers. He initially collected European porcelains and Japanese tea bowls but then turned to Chinese objects, which became his largest collection, emphasizing pottery and porcelains. His second interest was metalwork, and he formed a fine collection of Chinese bronzes; he was also interested in other media, such as jade. He chose items based on his aesthetic response rather than archaeological or rarity value, and he thus placed himself at the forefront of Western taste for Chinese art. From 1924 he also began to acquire Islamic art and formed a separate Chinese collection for the Benaki Museum, Athens, so that the museum eventually had nearly 800 examples of Chinese pottery and porcelain. Eumorfopoulos was elected the first president of the Oriental Ceramic Society in 1921 and retained this position until his death, his house becoming central to the activities of the society. In ...