Dr Ni Yibin, born in Shanghai, obtained MA and Ph.D. degrees at University College London. He taught English linguistics in the Department of English and Chinese art and culture in the University Scholars Programme, National University of Singapore. In recent years, he has made breakthroughs in deciphering lost story scenes in Chinese art and has become a freelance writer and independent scholar. He has lectured widely in the US institutions including Harvard, Yale, UCLA, University of Virginia, and Honolulu Academy of Arts, as well as in various universities, museums, and societies in Singapore, China and the UK.
In 2008, Sir Michael Butler on the occasion of the exhibition catalogue of the exhibition of Porcelain of the Late Ming, wrote:
“ I first met Dr Ni Yibin about a decade ago, and in an unusual way. The former U.K. Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath, who used to live quite close to me in England, telephoned me one day and asked if I would show my porcelain to a brilliant young Chinese scholar from Shanghai whom he was befriending. I said I would be delighted and asked them to lunch, although I was a little nervous of how long Sir Edward himself would be interested in the porcelain as he was not famous for his patience! What would he do while we were looking at the pots? I need not have worried. After lunch he came and sat with us while we talked and did not show signs of wanting to make a move till after tea at 5pm. When he was leaving he said he never imagined there could be so many interesting things to say about porcelain. Yibin was already then interested in identifying the narrative scenes on C17th porcelain, a quest which he has pursued with extraordinary success. He has helped me by identifying many of the scenes on pieces in my Shunzhi Exhibition in 2002 and the Shanghai Exhibition in 2005 and again those in this catalogue. He has become the leading authority in the world on the subject, with an enormous data base of pictures of the scenes and of the matching paintings and woodblock prints from which they are derived, as well as identifying ancient legends from the subject matter of the scenes. He is now very widely consulted. In my view he has made a major contribution to the study of the period and has hugely enlivened the entries in this and other catalogues. I value his contributions enormously, and could not be more grateful to him. We have met often in the last decade and had a lot of fun together. I treasure his friendship.” Sir Michael Butler, 2008