Meiyintang Collection

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Object from the Meiyintang Collection at Rietberg Museum

The Meiyintang Collection is a large, privately owned collection of Chinese porcelain consisting of about 2,000 pieces. The Meiyintang was widely hailed as one of the last great collections of Chinese porcelain by European owners.[1] The collection is currently controlled by Stephen Zuellig, a Swiss businessman and the heirs of his late brother, Gilbert Zuellig.[2] Meiyintang is the adopted Chinese name of the collection and means "Hall among Rosebeds" in Mandarin.[3]


The Meiyintang Collection was assembled over more than half a century by the Manila-born brothers Gilbert Zuellig (1918–2009) and Stephen Zuellig (b. 1917). Through their life and business activities in the Far East they developed a keen and manifold interest in Asian art and culture. In the late 1950s, they began to build up a systematic collection of Chinese art. Gilbert Zuellig specialized in early pottery, stoneware and ceramics, spanning five millennia from the Neolithic period to the Han, Tang and Song Dynasties, while his brother Stephen collected the later porcelains of the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties as well as archaic bronzes. Early on in their career as expert collectors, the Zuellig brothers were encouraged and guided by the connoisseur and dealer Edward T. Chow.[4]

As of 1994, the term Meiyintang gained international recognition among specialists of Chinese ceramics, following the publication of the catalogues written by the researcher Regina Krahl, in which the pieces of the collection are described in a scholarly presentation with comprehensive illustrations. Exhibitions dedicated to objects from the Meiyintang Collection were held at the British Museum in London (1994), the Sporting d’Hiver in Monte Carlo (1996), the Asia Society (1995) and the China Institute (2001) in New York, the Musée Cernuschi in Paris (1999), the Musée du Président Jacques Chirac in Sarran, Corrèze (2009) and the Musée Guimet in Paris (2013).

In 2011 and 2012, an important portion of the Yuan, Ming and Qing pieces of the Meiyintang Collection was dispersed in a series of auctions by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong.[2]

Loan to Rietberg Museum[edit]

Gilbert Zuellig’s part of the collection, comprising over 1,600 pieces, the ownership of which was transferred to the Meiyintang Stiftung (Meiyintang Foundation) in 2003, remains intact and is being made accessible to the public. Thanks to the support of the collector’s heirs and the dispositions of the foundation, this representative assemblage of early Chinese pottery and classic ceramics was handed over to the Rietberg Museum in Zurich under a long-term loan agreement, to be exhibited in the re-designed halls of the museum’s Chinese department as of January 2013.[5]


  • Evolution vers la perfection, Céramiques de Chine de la Collection Meiyintang, Sporting d’Hiver, Monte Carlo 1996 (exhibition catalogue).
  • Regina Krahl: Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, (Volumes I, II, III, IV), London 1994-2010.
  • Regina Krahl: L’âge d’or de la céramique chinoise, VIe – XIVe siècles, Collection Meiyintang, Musée Cernuschi, Paris 1999 (exhibition catalogue).
  • Regina Krahl, Willow Hai Chang, China Institute Gallery: Dawn of the Yellow Earth – Ancient Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, New York 2000 (exhibition catalogue).
  • Regina Krahl: Trésors de la collection Meiyintang, Céramique chinoise ancienne, exposition, Sarran, Musée du Président Jacques Chirac, 2009 (exhibition catalogue).
  • Sotheby’s: The Meiyintang Collection, Part I-V, Hong Kong 2011-2013.



  1. ^ Art world awaits European trove of Chinese ceramics
  2. ^ a b Majendie, Adam (9 February 2011). "Sotheby’s to Sell $121 Million of Meiyintang’s Chinese Ceramics". Bloomberg. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Meiyintang marvels: The finest private collection of Chinese porcelain in the West is about to be sold. The Economist, March 17, 2011, p. 92f.
  4. ^ Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, Volume 73 (2008–2009), pg. xi.
  5. ^ Museum Rietberg. Meiyintang im Museum Rietberg: Weltbedeutende chinesische Keramik.

External links[edit]