Kneeling winged monster

citation

Historical period(s)
Northern Qi dynasty, Northern Qi dynasty, 550-577
Medium
Limestone
Dimensions
H x W x D (overall): 79 x 57.5 x 31.6 cm (31 1/8 x 22 5/8 x 12 7/16 in)
Geography
China, Hebei province, Fengfeng, northern Xiangtangshan, North Cave
Credit Line
Transfer from the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Accession Number
F1977.8
On View Location
Freer Gallery 17: Promise of Paradise: Ancient Chinese Buddhist Sculpture
Classification(s)
Sculpture, Stone
Type

Buddhist sculpture

Keywords
Buddhism, cave, China, monster, Northern dynasties (386 - 581), Northern Qi dynasty (550 - 577), Period of Division (220 - 589), relief, temple, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

Originally located in the North Cave, northern Xiangtangshan, Hebei province, China [1]

1936
An antique shop, Beijing, 1936 [2]

From 1939 to 1941
C. T. Loo & Co., New York, from at least November 1939 [3]

From 1941 to 1951
Eduard von der Heydt (1882-1964), Ascona, Switzerland, purchased from C. T. Loo on April 3, 1941 and lent to the Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, New York [4]

From 1951 to 1964
US Government vested Eduard von der Heydt's property under the provisions of "Trading with the Enemy Act" by vesting order, dated August 21, 1951 [5]

From 1964 to 1973
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, from March 1964 [6]

From 1973
Freer Gallery of Art, transferred from National Museum of Natural History on January 29, 1973 [7]

Notes:

[1] The removal of the sculpted figures and fragments from the Xiangtangshan caves began ca. 1909 at the time of political upheaval in China and continued throughout several decades, see http://xts.uchicago.edu/, accessed on November 9, 2009. See also J. Keith Wilson and Daisy Yiyou Wang, "The Early-Twentieth-Century 'Discovery' of the Xiangtangshan Caves," in Katherine R. Tsiang et al., Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan, exh. cat. (Chicago: Smart Museum of Art; Washington, DC: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2010), pp. 106-129 and Katherine R. Tsiang and J. Keith Wilson, "Catalogue of Works in the Exhibition," in Katherine R. Tsiang et al., Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan, 2010, pp. 182-183, cat. no. 12 (ill.).

[2] Mizuno Seiichi and Nagahiro Toshio illustrated the sculpture and described it as being in the possession of a Beijing antique shop in a publication based on a survey they had conducted in 1936, see Mizuno Seiichi and Nagahiro Toshio, Kyodosan sekkutsu [The Buddhist Cave-Temples of Hsiang-t'ang-ssu on the Frontier of Honan and Hopei] (Kyoto: Toho bunka gakuin Kyoto Kenkyujo, Showa 12, 1937), p. 105, pl. 6b.

[3] See C. T. Loo's stockcard no. 80954: "Two stone slabs, high relief decoration of monster, Wei," Frank Caro Archive, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, copy in object file. The sculpture was inventoried together with F1977.9 in November 1939. On December 30, 1939, the sculpture was illustrated in an advertisement for An Exhibition of Chinese Stone Sculptures at C. T. Loo & Co. in New York, January 5-27, in Art News 38, 13 (December 30, 1939), back cover; see also C. T. Loo, An Exhibition of Chinese Stone Sculptures (New York: C. T .Loo and Co., 1940), cat. no. 30, pl. 23.

[4] See C. T. Loo's stockcard cited above. The sculpture was sent by C. T. Loo directly to the Buffalo Museum of Science, see C. T. Loo's letters to Chauncey Hamlin, dated April 3, 1941 and April 9, 1941, Chauncey Hamlin Papers, Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, New York, copy in object file. See also "Catalogue of the Von der Heydt Loan to the Buffalo Museum of Science: Loan Material from Baron Von der Heydt, as of March 1949," where the sculpture is documented together with F1977.9 under an inventory card no. 4151, copy in object file.

[5] See Vesting Order No. 18344, August 21, 1951, Office of Alien Property, Department of Justice. Eduard von der Heydt exhausted all the legal remedies against the forfeiture of his property provided to him by the Trading with the Enemy Act.

[6] Attorney General, Robert Kennedy authorized transfer of the von der Heydt collection from Buffalo Museum of Science to the custody of the Smithsonian Institution in March 1964. The collection was transferred to the National Museum of Natural History. In 1966 US Congress legislated transferring the title of the von der Heydt collection to the Smithsonian Institution, see Public Law 89-503, 80 Stat. 287, July 18, 1966. The sculpture was accessioned under no. 448098 B, see "Smithsonian Office of Anthropology Accession Data," copy in object file.

[7] The sculpture was among 13 objects in the von der Heydt collection transferred from National Museum of Natural History to the Freer Gallery of Art, see "Smithsonian Institution Intramural Transfer of Specimens" memorandum, dated January 29, 1973, copy in object file. It was accessioned to the Freer Gallery Study Collection under no. SC-S-10 in 1973 and subsequently accessioned to the permanent collection in 1977.

Previous Owner(s)

National Museum of Natural History, Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution
C.T. Loo & Company active 1908-1950
Baron Eduard von der Heydt 1882-1964

Label

Half-human, half-animal monsters served as the bases of columns in Cave 7 at Xiangtangshan, so visitors viewed the scultpures looking down upon them. The figures represent guardians of the Buddhist law.

Published References
  • An Exhibition of Chinese Stone Sculpture. New York. cat. 30, pl. XXIII.
  • Zenbei bijutsukan shushu sekai meisakuten: kodai Ejiputo kara gendai made (Masterpieces of World Art from American Museums: From Ancient Egypt to Contemporary Art). Exh. cat. Kyoto and Tokyo. cat. 68.
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Sculptures in the von der Keydt Collection. Zurich. pl. 30.
  • pp. 200-202.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

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