The Butler Collection is recognised to be the finest collection of 17th century Chinese porcelain in the world. It was put together by Sir Michael Butler, (1927 – 2013), a British Diplomat, who succeeded to the highest echelons of the Foreign Office.

The collection started with the acquisition, in 1961, of a green glazed, bamboo-shaped winepot for a couple of pounds, but gradually grew in size and repute, until it was around 850 pieces, and had travelled around the world in many solo exhibitions.

The collection shows the evolution of styles from the Late Ming, into the Transitional Period when Imperial oversight of the production was withdrawn, and then into the Kangxi style of the second Qing emperor who died in 1722. It is an important reference collection because the sheer number of pieces illustrates the extraordinary variety and innovations of this unique period when potters and painters were freed from Imperial controls and experimented with new shapes, decorations, narrative scenes and glazes.