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Chater Collection on Show at HK Museum of Art
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Some 40 works from Chater Collection are on show which started on Friday at the Hong Kong Museum of Art to commemorate the museum's 45th anniversary.

The exhibition, "The Chater Legacy -- A Selection of the Chater Collection", featuring oil paintings, watercolors, sketches, prints and photographs, shows the landscape of the South China trading ports in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as British activities in China.

According to Assistant Curator of the museum Maria Mok, the Chater Collection, having sailed through long years of turmoil, has been reduced from more than 400 to a mere 94 pieces. These invaluable works were handed to the City Hall Museum and Art Gallery (predecessor of the Hong Kong Museum of Art) in 1962 and became one of the three major private collections when the museum was opened.

Shortly before Hong Kong was occupied by the Japanese in 1941, the Governor Sir Mark Aitchison Young ordered valuable works of Chater collection be hidden in the wine cellar and strong room in the basement of Government House. However the basement was considerably altered during the Japanese Occupation, the paintings were most probably discovered and removed by the Japanese troops.

Sir Paul Chater (1846-1926) was an Indian-born Armenian who came to Hong Kong in 1864. He became a successful merchant and was appointed ex officio members of the Legislative Council and the Executive Council.

Chater amassed a considerable fortune as well as an important collection of paintings and ceramics. Quite a few places in Hong Kong are named after him. His private collection was donated to the Hong Kong Government under his last wish.

The exhibition will be held until Jan. 8, 2008.

(Xinhua News Agency March 24, 2007)

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