Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

Sunday, July 1, 1990

The Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture

[ed. - The date of this post is approximate. The Fellowship of Friends' focus on Ming furniture began with a 1987 journey to Paris, where Robert Burton, his Secretary Wayne Mott, and future museum curator Curtis Evarts observed a Ming era chair (link inactive). (See translated text below.) Over the next few years, the Fellowship's Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture was created.]

Excerpts from Austere Luminosity of Chinese Classical Furniture, by Sarah Handler:
"In 1990 the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture opened in Renaissance, California. Founded by the Fellowship of Friends in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California, this museum was the only one in the world devoted exclusively to Chinese furniture. To promote the study and appreciation of furniture, the fellowship also published the quarterly Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society."

"San Francisco was again the site of a Chinese furniture exhibition in 1995–96, when the collection from the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture was shown at the Pacific Heritage Museum and a catalog published. The Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society ceased publication at the end of 1994, and in September 1996 the museum’s entire collection was sold at Christie’s in New York for unprecedented sums.The collection had been formed during the 1980s and ’90s, when many excellent pieces of classical furniture were coming out of China."

"This book had its origins in the high-spirited rediscovery of classical furniture in the 1990s and developed from a series of articles I wrote about pieces in the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture."

From: (link inactive)

(Translated from the Chinese) "California Museum of Chinese classical
furniture is a specialized collection of the world's first museum of
Ming furniture, hiding it in the vineyard under the foothills of the
Sierra Nevada from San Francisco to Reno direction dealers than three
hours, you can arrive Manor of 'outposts.' Park trails meandering, with
the potential ups and downs."
(Translated from the Chinese) "Here was a Ming-style
furniture traces exotic appendage premises Home-Page
of the owner in May 1994 allowed to visit the museum,
and the curator Curtis Evarts (right) and Chinese
Classical Furniture Society Quarterly editor
Jeanne Chapman (left) photo."
(Translated from the Chinese) This 18th century rosewood South Armchair [pictured above] led to the birth of Chinese classical furniture museum. In 1987, painter Wayne Mott and the Fellowship of Friends founder Robert Burton and future curator Curtis Evarts were on a tour in Paris. This armchair captured this group of people's heart, stunning them: "It's almost like a beautiful sculpture."

From New Perspectives on Chinese Furniture: (link inactive)
This emphasis on Chinese hardwood furniture continued as late as 1987 when the Fellowship of Friends, a non-profit organization in Renaissance, California chose to collect Chinese hardwood furniture as part of their belief that art elevates the spirit. The formation of the Renaissance Museum of Classical Chinese furniture and its subsequent sale at public auction of the collection some 9 years later was to magnify the importance of Chinese hardwood furniture. Firstly, by driving up the prices as they sought out the best pieces in the market, secondly through the scholarship that they promoted through their quarterly publication - the Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society - and finally when the pieces sold for record prices at auction.

[ed. - From: Ming Furniture Ltd.'s website. They would later be named in a Fellowship lawsuit.]
Ming Furniture Ltd.
New York, NY
Telephone: 212-734-9524

Ming Furniture Ltd. specializes in the sale of rare Huanghuali, Zitan, and Jichimu hardwood and lacquer furniture from China's golden age of furniture design, the Ming and early Qing dynasties, circa 1500-1775.

Since 1987, our gallery has been advising museums, foundations, corporations, and private collectors in their purchase of important Chinese furniture. Over twenty (20) pieces from our holdings have been sold to and can now be found in the great museum collections of Chinese furniture and art: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; the Detroit Institute of Arts; and the Guanfu Museum, Beijing. Ming Furniture Ltd. also played an instrumental role in the formation of the collection of the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture in Renaissance, California.

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