During my first two years, I completed my coursework, passed my exams and presented my dissertation proposal in February 2016. I also studied, sampled, and started the analytical work regarding all objects from US museums included in my dissertation. Following that, I had the opportunity to attend DELPHI - the Delaware Public Humanities Institute supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the University of Delaware Center for Material Culture Studies. This two-week workshop helped me to develop tools for communication with non-specialist audiences through public speaking and digital media and sharing it with participants from other fields, like art history and fine arts.
During that Summer, I also began sampling pieces that are housed in non-US collections, particularly the ones in Portuguese collections. My study group of objects belongs mainly to US and Portuguese collections but is not exclusive to these two countries. Different institutions and individuals in different countries are contributing to my research either by giving permission for me to sample objects in their collections or by granting access in order to study related pieces. I have had invaluable support from the Winterthur Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the US; from the São Roque Museum, the National Palace of Ajuda, and a private collector, all in Lisbon, as well as Jorge Welsh Works of Art both in Lisbon and in London; also in London: the Victoria & Albert Museum and Ronald Phillips Antiques; the Lacquer Museum in Munster, and the Royal Brighton Pavilion in Brighton.
As I am progressing through my candidacy research has been my focus. For a month and a half, between August and October 2016, with the support of the Phillips Library/Peabody Essex Museum, I was a Frances E. Malamy Fellow and had access to the extensive manuscript collection in Salem, MA. Shipping records were the most important part of my research since these include precious information about merchants, trade, and cargos that circulated between Salem and Guangzhou beginning in 1786 when the ship Grand Turk made the first round-trip between the two port cities. This stay in Salem also allowed me to spend more time studying the Peabody Essex Museum objects that constitute a substantial part of my study group. This visit ended with a presentation about my research to the Asian Export Art Visiting Committee that included a tour of several of the Chinese export art objects in storage at the PEM.