Donovan Michael Sullivan (Chinese: 蘇立文; 29 October 1916 – 28 September 2013) was a Canadian-born British art historian and collector, and one of the major Western pioneers in the field of modern Chinese art history and criticism.[1][2]

Sullivan was born in Toronto, Ontario, and moved to England at the age of three. He was the youngest of five children of Alan Sullivan (pen name Sinclair Murray), a Canadian mining engineer turned novelist and his wife Elisabeth (née Hees).[2] Sullivan was a graduate of Rugby School and graduated from the University of Cambridge in architecture in 1939. He was in China from 1940 to 1946 with the International and Chinese Red Cross followed by teaching and doing museum work in Chengdu, where he met and married Wu Huan (Khoan), a biologist who gave up her career to work with him.

He received a PhD from Harvard University (1952) and a post-doctoral Bollingen Fellowship. He subsequently taught in the University of Singapore, and returned to London in the 1960s to teach at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Then he became Christensen Professor of Chinese art in the Department of Art at Stanford University from 1966 to 1984, before moving to the University of Oxford as a Fellow by Special Election at St Catherine's College, Oxford.[3] He lived in Oxford, England.[4] He was Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Oxford for 1973–74.[5]

Sullivan was a major art collector who owned more than 400 works of art, including paintings by Chinese masters Qi Baishi, Zhang Daqian, and Wu Guanzhong. His was one of the world's most significant collections of modern Chinese art. He bequeathed his collection to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, which has a gallery dedicated to Sullivan and his wife Khoan.[6]

Selected publications



  1. ^ "Professor Michael Sullivan, 1916 – 2013". Oxford University. 28 September 2013. Archived from the original on 18 February 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Michael Sullivan obituary". The Guardian. 25 October 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  3. ^ "The Arts of China, Fifth Edition, Revised and Expanded". Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  4. ^ "Art and Artists of Twentieth-Century China" – via
  5. ^ "Oxford Slade Professors, 1870–present" (PDF). University of Oxford. 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Ashmolean acquires major Chinese art collection". BBC. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2014.