Find out more about Sir Herbert, who gave over 3000 Chinese and Japanese objects in the Ashmolean’s collection.
The arrival of the Sir Herbert Ingram’s generous gift of over 3,000 Chinese and Japanese objects to the Museum of Eastern Art in 1956, then housed in the Indian Institute, more than doubled its original holdings. In 1962, these were moved to become part of the collection of the Ashmolean Museum.
Sir Herbert, whose grandfather founded the Illustrated London News, came from a family of collectors. In 1908, he visited Japan on his honeymoon, and spent three months there hunting for ‘curios’. During this time, he and his wife bought over a thousand pieces, many of which formed part of the donation to the museum. Sir Herbert’s particular interest was in Satsuma earthenware, and towards the end of their stay in Japan to his great pleasure he managed to buy the majority of the collection of a retired sumo wrestler. To these he added many pieces of sword furniture, some fine lacquer, and netsuke from London. Six hundred beads (ojime) which he bought for his new wife in Japan were given at the same time by Lady Ingram.
A few years after his return to England, Sir Herbert began to turn his interest towards Chinese ceramics. During the following two decades he assembled a renowned collection of greenwares and other ceramics from the Song dynasty and earlier. These, along with numerous early Chinese jades and bronzes he had collected, also came to the museum in 1956.
Sir Herbert was an active member of the Oriental Ceramic Society for many years. He was always very generous at sharing his collection with students and experts alike, and also occassionaly published papers. Lady Ingram also wrote a number of articles for Connoisseur Magazine during the 1930s on different aspects of their Japanese collection, in particular the lacquer boxes, the Satsuma collection and her ojime.