University Archives

William Marcellous Lindgren Asian Art Collection

About the Collection

Copper Elephant Drink Warmer

Former St. Cloud State University professor William Lindgren donated this unique collection of Asian art to the University upon his death in 1993. The entire collection is now on view on the third floor of the campus library, or Miller Learning Resources Center. Lindgren collected the artwork when he lived, worked, and traveled throughout Asia in the 1950s and 1960s. The result is an incredibly diverse collection that spans a broad range of countries, periods, and media—including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and the decorative arts.  The collection is displayed in and around University Archives and is free and open to the public.  

About the Collector

Lindgren and a “friend” at a botanical garden in Taipei, Taiwan, January 1950

World traveler William Marcellous Lindgren was born in 1922 in Braham, Minnesota, a small town just north of Cambridge on Highway 65. He served on the St. Cloud State faculty from 1966 to 1968 and again from 1975 to 1988. Lindgren passed away in 1993.

Lindgren began traveling across Asia in 1947 as an employee of the California Texas Oil Company (Caltex). By the time he returned to Minnesota in 1966, he had been assigned to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, and Vietnam. As an employee of the Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company toward the end of this period, he had additional assignments in the Philippines, Singapore, and Japan. Whenever possible he would visit other nearby locales, including Macao, Thailand, Cambodia, Kashmir, Nepal, Tibet, and Afghanistan. Given the time frame and locations, Lindgren found himself in the middle of many events that changed the geo-political landscape of the 20th century, among them the establishment of Communist China, its invasion of Tibet and the Dalai Lama’s flight to India, the French-Viet Minh conflict and subsequent Vietnam War, and Cold War movements among the United States, the Soviet Union, and China in the border regions of Central Asia. This also made Lindgren a valuable source of information for American intelligence agencies, which often took advantage of his proximity and ability to move relatively freely in these areas by debriefing him for information.

During his time in Asia, Lindgren collected a wide variety of objects and art works from many of the countries mentioned here. A selection can be seen on the walls and display cases just outside of University Archives. Most of these items have never been seen outside of the University Archives’ reading room and storage area. Shortly after his death in 1993, his extensive collection of Asian Art was donated to the University Archives.

China and Tibet

Scroll with Carp and Pomegranates, China, early 20th century, watercolor

Lindgren began his career in China and spent more of his time there than anywhere else during his life in Asia, and he generally favored his experiences and the people there above all others. While living and working as a manager of Caltex offices responsible for selling and shipping oil products throughout China, Lindgren became a member of numerous exclusive social clubs and rubbed shoulders with ambassadors, consuls, and other dignitaries from around the world at countless black tie affairs. He also befriended several wealthy and well-situated families in China that allowed him a great amount of leisure and luxury, among them the Dukakis family, the Shogas family, and perhaps the most important of these families for him, the Tsu family. Mr. Tsu Ming Dong, a very wealthy Chinese businessman, invited Lindgren to live with him whenever he was in Shanghai, letting Lindgren take advantage of his mansion, grounds, servants, cars, chefs, and chauffeurs. Caltex also provided him with large living accommodations that included servants, drivers, and chefs, and excursions to local getaways like Macao, where gambling and opium were popular. Due to the civil war in China, however, not all experiences were this glamorous. Indeed, on more than one occasion Lindgren was in the path of Communist and Nationalist hostilities and had to flee the cities he called home.

Chinese and Tibetan Works

  • Embroidered Silk Landscape, China, 1948 (No. 2019)
  • Ancestor Portraits, China, 1900-1920, watercolor and charcoal (No. 2061)
  • Hong Kong Harbor, 1940-1950, watercolor by Ling (No. 2011)
  • Chinese Miniature Paintings, China, early 20th century, watercolor (No. 2033)
  • Scroll with Carp and Pomegranates, China, early 20th century, watercolor (No. 2067)
  • Portrait of a Man, Hong Kong, mid-20th century, watercolor by Ling (No. 2058)
  • Portrait of a Woman, Hong Kong, mid-20th century, watercolor by Ling (No. 2058)
  • Silk Scroll with Landscape, China, mid-20th century (No. 2025)
  • Landscape with Men Hunting Pheasants, China, mid-20th century (No. 2068)
  • Landscape with Scholar’s Pavilion, China, mid-20th century (No. 2068)
  • Chinese Ice Chest, China, late 19th century (No. 2066)
  • Marble Seals with Dragons, China, mid-20th century (No. 2014)
  • Ivory Cribbage Board, China, early 20th century (No. 2016)
  • Carved Ivory Boat, China, early 20th century (No. 2013)
  • Porcelain Vase with Celadon Glaze, China, mid-20th century (No. 2017)
  • Porcelain Famille Rose Vase, China, 1930-1950 (No. 2032)
  • Group of Ceramic Bowls with Celadon Glazes, China, Song Dynasty 13th century (No. 2035)
  • Group of Soapstone Immortals, China, early 20th century (No. 2036)
  • Bronze Mirror with Lion and Grape motif, China, Tang Dynasty 705-907 CE (No. 2037)
  • Opium Lamp, China, late 19th century (No. 2042)
  • Carved Wooden Figures, China, 1890-1960 (No. 2043)
  • Soapstone Statue of a Goddess, China, mid-20th century (No. 2049)
  • Cloisonné Glass Enamel Vases, China, 1930-1950 (No. 2046)
  • Bronze Incense Burner, China, 1850-1900 (No. 2047)
  • Jade Bowl or Cup, China, late 19th century (No. 2048)
  • Ivory Snuff Bottle, China, early 20th century (No. 2052)
  • Group of Five Soapstone Seals, China, mid-20th century (No. 2053)
  • Porcelain Vase with a Scholar’s Studio, China, late 19th century (No. 2060)
  • Porcelain Vase with Faux Crackle Glaze, China, 1950-1960 (No. 2056)
  • Brass Lotus Petal Opium Lamp, China, late 19th century, (No. 2057)
  • Tibetan Monastery Horn, Tibet, mid-20th century, copper and silver (No. 2022)
  • Fragments of a Bed or Screen, Tibet, 1880-1910, gilded wood (No. 2062)
  • Ke-Tri (Sword) In Sheath, Tibet, mid-20th century (no. 2008)
  • Wodden Incense Container, Tibet, 1880-1910 (No. 2023)
  • Copper Tea Pot, Tibet, late 19th to early 20th century (No. 2034)
  • Wooden Bowls and Utensils with Silver and Stone Inlays, Tibet, 1890-1930 (No. 2045)
  • Copper Elephant Drink Warmer, Tibet, 1890-1920 (No. 2050)

India, Nepal, and Pakistan

Mughal Brass Ewer, India, 18th century

Lindgren found little appeal to life in India, though he attended parties much like he had in China and lived in a grand house once owned by the Maharaja of Burdwan. He relieved his displeasure with trips to Nepal and Kashmir in addition to his other trips to Kalimpong. While in Nepal he was introduced to the British High Commissioner of Nepal and the Indian Consul General of Nepal. He also had the opportunity to witness the festival of Dashain in honor of the Goddess Durga, and attend the birthday parade for the King of Nepal. He even made a visit to Mt. Everest, climbing to perhaps 3,000 feet.

Elite Society in Pakistan

Following his assignment in India, Lindgren moved on to Pakistan, where he had a much more enjoyable life in Lahore, a city that continued to have an elite society and offered many similar comforts and experiences that he had enjoyed in China. While in Pakistan, he gained permission from the Mir of Hunza, Jamal Khan, to go to Hunza as the guest of the Mir and his family, making Lindgren one of only about 40 Americans to have visited since 1915. Toward the end of his stay in Pakistan in February 1957, Lindgren gave a reception at his home for an estimated 120 guests, many of them notable dignitaries from the region, the night before the annual horse and cattle show, a very important social event in Pakistan.

Indian, Nepalese, and Pakistani Works

  • Mughal Brass Ewer, India, 18th century (No. 2012)
  • Ceremonial Copper Bowl, Nepal, 1850-1910 (No. 2024)
  • Kukri (Machete) and Sheath, Nepal, mid-20th century (No. 2038)
  • Portraits of Mughal Emperors, Pakistan,1956, watercolor (No. 2001)
  • Afghan Beggar, Pakistan, mid-20th century, oil on canvas by Murian Shaw (No. 2027)

Philippines and Japan

Carving of a Woman, Philippines, 1940-1960

After leaving Caltex in 1961, Lindgren began working for the Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company managing its veterinary products division in Manila, a job he considered dull and uninteresting. He spent much of his time over the next few years living and working in the Philippines.

Pfizer and Japan

Lindgren’s work with the Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company took him to Japan on several occasions in the early to mid-1960s when the company bought Coty Cosmetics. Lindgren was responsible for making Coty a direct subsidiary of Pfizer.

Philippine and Japanese Works

  • Carving of Four Women, Philippines, mid-20th century, wood (No.2021)
  • Fisher Boy, Philippines, 1962, oil on canvas by Paco Gorospe (No. 2003)
  • Portrait Bust of a Woman, Philippines, mid-20th century, wood (No.2021)
  • Profile Portraits, Philippines, mid-20th century, wood (No. 2004)
  • Christ as Shepherd (Wooden Door Panel from the Manila Cathedral), Philippines, late 18th century, wood (No. 2004)
  • Spanish Cathedral of Manila, Philippines, 1963, watercolor by Hugo Yonzon (No. 2028)
  • Fort Santiago, Manila, Philippines, 1963, watercolor by Hugo Yonzon (No. 2029)
  • Set of Nine Gulintangan (Kulintang) Gongs, Philippines, early 20th century, brass (No. 2030)
  • Portrait of a Young Woman, Philippines, 1962, oil on canvas by Pedro C. Amorsolo (No. 2065)
  • Portrait of a Young Man, Philippines, 1962, oil on canvas by Pedro C. Amorsolo (No. 2065)
  • Moro Kampilan Sword, Philippines, late 19th century (No. 2007)
  • Carving of a Woman, Philippines, 1940-1960 (No. 2018)
  • Crooked Kris (Sword), Philippines, early 20th century (No. 2041)
  • White Forest, Japan, 1973, woodblock print by Fumio Fujita (No. 2009)
  • Bamboo, Japan, mid-20th century, woodblock print by Kotozuka Eiichi (No. 2059)
  • Porcelain Arita-Ware Dish, Arita, Japan, 1880-1910 (No. 2031)
  • Bronze Foot Suiban (Bonsai Planter), Japan, Meiji period 1868-1912 (No. 2051)
  • Sake Set and Screen, Japan, 1930-1960s (No. 2055)
  • Ceramic Plate with Flower Design, Japan, late 20th century (No. 2069)

Timeline

World War II and its aftermath meant opportunity for political change throughout the world. Dozens of countries in Asia in particular sought and fought for independence from their European colonial rulers and looked to alternative forms of government, most notably communism. When William Lindgren entered adulthood and the world stage, he found himself in this turbulent milieu of places and events that changed the geo-political landscape of the 20th century. As he lived, worked, and traveled throughout Asia, he collected works of art along the way, art that is presented here. What follows is a timeline of Lindgren’s life and activity in relation to various events from both the world at large and within his Asian sphere of experience.

1922

  • September 26: William Marcellous Lindgren is born in Braham, MN.

1941

  • The US enters World War II following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

1944

  • Lindgren graduates with a BA in Political Science and Economics from the Uni. of Minnesota.

1945

  • Lindgren enters the Royal Canadian Armed Forces, serving until September.
  • May: Germany surrenders.
  • August: The US drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, resulting in Japan’s surrender.

1946

  • Lindgren graduates with an MA in Political Science and Economics from the Uni. of British Columbia.
  • Civil war resumes in China.
  • The US recognizes the independence of the Philippines.

1947

  • January: Lindgren joins Caltex (California Texas Oil Company).
  • July: Assigned to Shanghai, China, for training.
  • October: Sent to Beijing to study Chinese language, history, and geography.
  • The Cold War begins.
  • Japan adopts a parliamentary government.
  • India and Pakistan gain independence from British rule but remain dominions.

1948

  • June: Lindgren is promoted to manager of the Caltex Beijing office.
  • December: Leaves Beijing due to the advance of Communist forces and is eventually assigned to Nanking, China.

1949

  • Nanking is ordered to be evacuated in August. Lindgren travels back to Shanghai before his next assignment in Taiwan.
  • Beijing and Shanghai fall under Communist control.
  • October: The People’s Republic of China is established.
  • December: Taipei, Taiwan becomes the capital of the Republic of China.

1950

  • August: Lindgren goes on extended vacation traveling to Southeast Asia, Syria, Turkey, and Europe before traveling back to Minnesota.
  • Later, Lindgren is assigned to Hong Kong.
  • The Korean War begins.
  • China absorbs Tibet.
  • India pulls out of the British dominion and becomes the Republic of India.

1952

  • June: Lindgren visits Vietnam, arriving in Hanoi and departing from Saigon in July.

1954

  • February: Lindgren travels from Hong Kong to Lebanon, Italy, Algeria, Spain, France and England.
  • Summer: Lindgren is in Vancouver representing Hong Kong in the British Commonwealth Games.
  • September: Lindgren is reassigned to India.
  • The US recognizes Taiwan as a nation state.
  • Vietnam gains independence from France.

1955

  • April: Lindgren visits Kalimpong, Sikkim.
  • Sept/Oct: Takes a two week vacation to Lake Dal in Kashmir.
  • October: Visits Nepal.
  • November: The Vietnam War begins between North and South Vietnam.

1956

  • March: Lindgren is assigned to Lahore, Pakistan.
  • Later 1956: travels across Pakistan, including Rawalpindi, Nagar, Gilgit, and Sahiwal.
  • Pakistan pulls out of the British dominion and becomes the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
  • Japan joins the UN.

1958

  • Lindgren is assigned to Saigon to oversee Caltex agents in South Vietnam and Cambodia.

1959

  • The Dalai Lama escapes to India from Tibet.

1961

  • May: Lindgren attends the reception of US Vice President Johnson in Saigon.
  • June: Lindgren leaves Caltex (and Vietnam) for Pfizer Pharmaceutical Company and trains in Hong Kong before being sent to Manila, Philippines.
  • US troop levels in Vietnam increase significantly though 1961–62.

1962-64

  • 1962-64: Lindgren makes several trips between Hong Kong and the Philippines.
  • 1963-64: Makes several visits to Japan, arriving in Haneda.
  • 1964: Lindgren is transferred from Manila to Singapore, and shortly after to Japan before resigning from Pfizer.
  • August 1963: Singapore joins Malaysia.

1965

  • Singapore is expelled from Malaysia and adopts the name Republic of Singapore.

1966

  • Lindgren begins teaching at St. Cloud State College in the Social Sciences department.

1968-74

  • Lindgren resigns from St. Cloud and moves to Hong Kong to work for R&D Products Limited before resigning from R&D in 1974.

1975-1988

  • Lindgren teaches at St. Cloud State University in the Social Sciences department.
  • He retires in 1988.
  • April 1975: The Vietnam War ends with the fall of Saigon.

1993

  • Spring: Lindgren is diagnosed with terminal cancer.
  • October 13: William Marcellous Lindgren dies in Cambridge, MN.

Collection Index

China

  • Embroidered Silk Landscape, 1948 (No. 2019)
  • Ancestor Portraits, 1900-1920, watercolor and charcoal (No. 2061)
  • Hong Kong Harbor, 1940-1950, watercolor by Ling (No. 2011)
  • Chinese Miniature Paintings, early 20th century, watercolor (No. 2033)
  • Scroll with Carp and Pomegranates, early 20th century, watercolor (No. 2067)
  • Portrait of a Man, Hong Kong, mid-20th century, watercolor by Ling (No. 2058)
  • Portrait of a Woman, Hong Kong, mid-20th century, watercolor by Ling (No. 2058)
  • Silk Scroll with Landscape, mid-20th century (No. 2025)
  • Landscape with Men Hunting Pheasants, mid-20th century (No. 2068)
  • Landscape with Scholar’s Pavilion, mid-20th century (No. 2068)
  • Chinese Ice Chest, late 19th century (No. 2066)
  • Marble Seals with Dragons, mid-20th century (No. 2014)
  • Ivory Cribbage Board, early 20th century (No. 2016)
  • Carved Ivory Boat, early 20th century (No. 2013)
  • Porcelain Vase with Celadon Glaze, mid-20th century (No. 2017)
  • Porcelain Famille Rose Vase, 1930-1950 (No. 2032)
  • Group of Ceramic Bowls with Celadon Glazes, Song Dynasty 13th century (No. 2035)
  • Group of Soapstone Immortals, early 20th century (No. 2036)
  • Bronze Mirror with Lion and Grape motif, Tang Dynasty 705-907 CE (No. 2037)
  • Opium Lamp, late 19th century (No. 2042)
  • Carved Wooden Figures, 1890-1960 (No. 2043)
  • Soapstone Statue of a Goddess, mid-20th century (No. 2049)
  • Cloisonné Glass Enamel Vases, 1930-1950 (No. 2046)
  • Bronze Incense Burner, 1850-1900 (No. 2047)
  • Jade Bowl or Cup, late 19th century (No. 2048)
  • Ivory Snuff Bottle, early 20th century (No. 2052)
  • Group of Five Soapstone Seals, mid-20th century (No. 2053)
  • Porcelain Vase with a Scholar’s Studio, late 19th century (No. 2060)
  • Porcelain Vase with Faux Crackle Glaze, 1950-1960 (No. 2056)
  • Brass Lotus Petal Opium Lamp, late 19th century, (No. 2057)

Tibet

  • Tibetan Monastery Horn, mid-20th century, copper and silver (No. 2022)
  • Fragments of a Bed or Screen, 1880-1910, gilded wood (No. 2062)
  • Ke-Tri (Sword) In Sheath, mid-20th century (no. 2008)
  • Wodden Incense Container, 1880-1910 (No. 2023)
  • Copper Tea Pot, late 19th to early 20th century (No. 2034)
  • Wooden Bowls and Utensils with Silver and Stone Inlays, 1890-1930 (No. 2045)
  • Copper Elephant Drink Warmer, 1890-1920 (No. 2050)

India

  • Mughal Brass Ewer, 18th century (No. 2012)

Nepal

  • Ceremonial Copper Bowl, 1850-1910 (No. 2024)
  • Kukri (Machete) and Sheath, mid-20th century (No. 2038)

Pakistan

  • Portraits of Mughal Emperors, 1956, watercolor (No. 2001)
  • Afghan Beggar, mid-20th century, oil on canvas by Murian Shaw (No. 2027)

Philippines

  • Carving of Four Women, mid-20th century, wood (No.2021)
  • Fisher Boy, 1962, oil on canvas by Paco Gorospe (No. 2003)
  • Portrait Bust of a Woman, mid-20th century, wood (No.2021)
  • Profile Portraits, mid-20th century, wood (No. 2004)
  • Christ as Shepherd (Wooden Door Panel from the Manila Cathedral), late 18th century, wood (No. 2004)
  • Spanish Cathedral of Manila, 1963, watercolor by Hugo Yonzon (No. 2028)
  • Fort Santiago, Manila, 1963, watercolor by Hugo Yonzon (No. 2029)
  • Set of Nine Gulintangan (Kulintang) Gongs, early 20th century, brass (No. 2030)
  • Portrait of a Young Woman, 1962, oil on canvas by Pedro C. Amorsolo (No. 2065)
  • Portrait of a Young Man, 1962, oil on canvas by Pedro C. Amorsolo (No. 2065)
  • Moro Kampilan Sword, late 19th century (No. 2007)
  • Carving of a Woman, 1940-1960 (No. 2018)
  • Crooked Kris (Sword), early 20th century (No. 2041)

Japan

  • White Forest, 1973, woodblock print by Fumio Fujita (No. 2009)
  • Bamboo, mid-20th century, woodblock print by Kotozuka Eiichi (No. 2059)
  • Porcelain Arita-Ware Dish, Arita, 1880-1910 (No. 2031)
  • Bronze Foot Suiban (Bonsai Planter), Meiji period 1868-1912 (No. 2051)
  • Sake Set and Screen, 1930-1960s (No. 2055)
  • Ceramic Plate with Flower Design, late 20th century (No. 2069)

Other

  • Set of Three Thai Dancers, Thailand, mid-20th century, watercolor (No. 2010)
  • Wooden Carving of a Woman, Indonesia, mid-20th century (No. 2015)
  • Mala of Buddhist Prayer Beads, early 20th century (No. 2039)
  • Knife and Sheath, Syria, mid-20th century (No. 2040)
  • Brass Tombak or Ewer, Indo-Persian style, late 19th century (No. 2044)
  • Copper Tray and Ladles, Afghanistan, early 20th century (No. 2064)
  • Portrait of Lindgren, Canada, 1945 pencil drawing by Dorothy Philips (No. 2002)