Temple Wall Painting (Three Heads)

citation

Historical period(s)
Tang dynasty, 700-850
Medium
Gypsum plaster with pigment
Dimensions
H x W: 23.6 x 50.4 cm (9 5/16 x 19 13/16 in)
Geography
China, Xinjiang province
Credit Line
Long-term loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum; gift of John Gellatly, 1929.8.325.6
Collection
Gellatly collection
Accession Number
LTS1985.1.325.6
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Wall painting

Keywords
Buddhism, China, Gellatly collection, Tang dynasty (618 - 907)
Provenance

Cave 224, Kizil Cave Complex, ancient kingdom of Kucha, Baicheng county, Xinjiang province, China. [1]

From 1913-1914 to 1928
Museum für Völkerkunde (Museum of Ethnology, formerly the Royal Museum of Ethnology) in Berlin, acquired in the Fourth German Expedition to Central Asia, led by Albert von Le Coq (1860-1930) during the period June 1913 to February 1914. [2]

From at least 1928 to 1929
John Gellatly (1853-1931), New York, New York, purchased from an unidentified source. [3]

From 1929
Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of John Gellatly in 1929; from 1985 on loan to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. [4]

Notes:

[1] The wall fragment was removed from the Kizil caves near Kucha, in Central Asia by German museum staff Albert von Le Coq (1860-1930) and taken to Berlin. See Keith Wilson, “Meiguo Huashengdun tequ Shimisen xuehui zang de Kezier bihua duanpian (Kizil wall painting fragments at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC),” Xin meishu 2016: 5, 20-34.

[2] See note 1.

[3] According to ongoing research by Sonya S. Lee, the German museum sold some pieces, first in 1923 and again in 1928 to raise some funds. Although documents surrounding their purchase have not yet been found, it is believed the fragment now in the Smithsonian was part of the second batch, which was sold in 1928. See Keith Wilson, “Meiguo Huashengdun tequ Shimisen xuehui zang de Kezier bihua duanpian (Kizil wall painting fragments at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC),” Xin meishu 2016: 5, 20-34. Furthermore, Sonya Lee posits that there were two main dealers: Yamanaka Sadajiro and C.T. Loo, who purchased from either the German museum or Le Coq during the 1928 sale. See Sonya S. Lee, “Central Asia coming to the museum: The display of Kucha mural fragments in interwar Germany and the United States,” Journal of the History of Collections, 2016: 28 (3), 417-436.

4] John Gellatly gifted his collection to the then named, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution. “The National Gallery of Art” was a term used by the Smithsonian Institution starting in 1906 to designate its fine art collection. In 1937, this Smithsonian unit was renamed the “National Collection of Fine Art.” In 1980 the name was changed to “National Museum of American Art”, and in 2000 it was finally changed to its current name, “Smithsonian American Art Museum.” Since 1985, the piece has been on loan to the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. See object file titled, “Gellatly Loan – Loan Negotiations Sackler Administration Loan Forms”, Collections Management Office. See object file titled, “Gellatly Loan – Loan Negotiations Sackler Administration Loan Forms”, Collections Management Office.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Whistler's Neighborhood
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Non-exclusive license