Beyond the dragon exhibition at Polesden Lacey

Two colourful Chinese Dogs of Fo figurines

When Margaret Greville died in 1942, she left not only Polesden Lacey to the National Trust, but also her London home as well as their contents. A collection of over 9,000 items is now housed at Polesden Lacey. In our new exhibition, we will be throwing a spotlight on 25 of the vivid Asian pieces in Maggie’s collection, from books to ceramics to furniture.

Experiences and Conservation Manager Jonathan Marsh chose the pieces in conjunction with the National Trust’s ceramic advisor and Polesden Lacey’s curator. 

‘We were very spoilt for choice, as there are 180 pieces of Asian art in our collection,’ says Jonathan. ‘We chose the pieces that are being featured as they show a range of materials and designs, as well as the wonderfully vibrant colours associated with this incredible continent.’

Beyond the dragon: Maggie’s Asian treasures runs from 2 February – 3 May 2018. Here is a preview of just a few of our favourite pieces that will feature in this colourful exhibition. 

Dogs of Fo

These ‘dogs’ are actually Chinese lions, said to guard against evil spirits and demons. Dogs of Fo are popular in Chinese and Buddhist art, and this particular dog is only one of the 18 in our collection. See if you can spot the others as you’re exploring the house. 

This Dog of Fo dates from the 18th Century
A Chinese Dog of Fo figurine
This Dog of Fo dates from the 18th Century


Porcelain cricket cage incense burner

This unusual ornament was made in Hizen, Japan and features gourds hanging on a beehive shaped cage. It was given to Maggie by Queen Mary as a Christmas gift in 1920, along with a note that said ‘this may amuse you!’


Japanese art books

These books are somewhat mysterious, as we don’t yet know a lot about them, apart from the fact that they probably date from the nineteenth century. They are incredibly delicate and feature stunning and rich prints on linen pages. The exhibition will be the very first time these books are on display to the public. 

An illustration from one of Maggie's Japanese art books
A close up detail of a Japanese art book
An illustration from one of Maggie's Japanese art books

Alongside our exhibition we will also be highlighting other Asian pieces in our collection throughout the house, so look out for them as you explore the rooms. 

Beyond the dragon: Maggie's Asian treasures is running as part of our Adventures in Asia programme, exploring Maggie’s travels around the continent. 

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