Bushell, Stephen Wootton (DNB12)

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BUSHELL, STEPHEN WOOTTON (1844–1908), physician and Chinese archæologist, born at his father's house on 28 July 1844, was third son of William Bushell of the Moat, Ash-next-Sandwich, Kent, by his wife Sarah Francis Wootton. After education at Tunbridge Wells school and Grange Court, Chigwell, he studied medicine at Guy's Hospital, and in 1866 graduated as M.B. of the University of London, where he won a scholarship and the gold medal in organic chemistry in 1864, a scholarship in biology and first-class honours in geology and palaeontology in 1865, and first-class honours in medicine and gold medal in forensic medicine in 1866. Appointed house surgeon at Guy's Hospital in 1866, and resident medical officer to Bethlehem Royal Hospital in 1867, he in 1868 went out to Peking to fill the post of physician to the British legation there. He retired owing to ill-health in 1900. The services which he rendered to tho Tsungli Yamen and other Chinese government departments received formal acknowledgement in 1894. In 1897 he was created C.M.G. On returning to England he devoted himself to the study of Chinese art and archaeology. He died on 19 Sept. 1908 at his residence, Ravensholt, Harrow-on-the-Hill. He married in 1874 Florence, daughter of Dr. R. N. B. Mathews, of Bickley, Kent, and left one son.

Bushell won general recognition as the highest authority in his day on Chinese ceramics. He brought to bear upon the subject scientific training and practical connoisseurship as well as an adequate knowledge of the Chinese language, which enabled him to study, and in many cases to publish in translation, the best Chinese works on the arts and handicrafts. He himself formed extensive collections of Chinese porcelain, pottery, coins and books, and was a frequent contributor to the journals of the Royal Asiatic Society and of the Royal Numismatic Society, of which he joined the councils. He was also a corresponding member of the Zoological and Numismatic Societies of Vienna.

His chief works are:

  1. 'Oriental Ceramic Art,' being a description of the W. T. Walters collection in Baltimore, published in ten richly illustrated volumes in 1897, followed by a separate edition of the text in 1899; though this work might be supplemented in regard to the earlier wares, it remains the classic on Chinese wares of the Ming and Ch'ing dynasties.
  2. 'Chinese Art' (Victoria and Albert Museum Handbook), 1904, 2 vols., dealing briefly with all branches of Chinese art; a valuable work, and full of information, though necessarily summary in its treatment of controversial points.
  3. 'Porcelain of Different Dynasties,' 1908, a reproduction with translation of a sixteenth-century Chinese collector's album with coloured illustrations; the original by Hsiang Yuan-p'ien, was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1887, and the illustrations in Dr. Bushell's publication are taken from a copy of the original and are consequently of uncertain value; of the text, which is of great interest, a translation had been previously published by Bushell in 'Chinese Porcelain before the Present Dynasty' in the 'Journal of the Peking Oriental Society' in 1886.
  4. 'Chinese Pottery and Porcelain, being a translation of the T'ao Shuo,' prepared in 1891, and published posthumously in 1910, an extremely valuable work, ranking with (and in many points above) Stanislas Julien's translation of the 'Ching-te-chen T'ao Lu' (1856). The 'T'ao Shuo' itself ranks higher as a Chinese work on porcelain than the 'T'ao Lu,' and Bushell's translation, though not as precise as Julien's, is made with a practical knowledge of the subject which Julien did not possess.
  5. 'Jade in China' (1906), an illustrated work on the Bishop collection, including translations of the 'Yii Shuo' (discussion of Jade) by T'ang Jung-tso, and of the 'Yii tso t'ou' (illustrations of the manufacture of jade) by Li Shih-chu'an.

Bushell also edited Cosmo Monkhouse's book on 'Chinese Porcelain' in 1901; and with W. M. Laffan prepared the catalogue of the Morgan collection of Chinese porcelain in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (1907).

[Royal Asiatic Soc. Journal, 1909, p. 239; Who's Who, 1908; Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]

R. L. H.