Seated Bodhisattva

Historical period(s)
Northern Qi dynasty, 550-577
Medium
Limestone with traces of gesso and pigment
Dimensions
H x W x D: 118 x 75.7 x 47.3 cm (46 7/16 x 29 13/16 x 18 5/8 in)
Geography
China, Hebei province, Fengfeng, northern Xiangtangshan, North Cave
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1913.57
On View Location
Freer Gallery 17: Promise of Paradise: Ancient Chinese Buddhist Sculpture
Classification(s)
Sculpture, Stone
Type

Figure

Keywords
bodhisattva, Buddhism, cave, China, halo, lotus, Maitreya Buddha, Northern dynasties (386 - 581), Northern Qi dynasty (550 - 577), Period of Division (220 - 589), temple
Provenance

To 1913
Edgar Worch (1880-1972), method of acquisition unknown [1]

To 1913
Marie (Nordlinger) Meyer-Riefstahl (Mrs. R. Meyer-Riefstahl) (1876-1961) purchased from Edgar Worch [2]

From 1913 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Marie Meyer-Riefstahl [3]

From 1920
The Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]

Notes:

[1] Born in Kassel, Germany, Edgar Worch was a prominent dealer of Chinese art. Before the outbreak of World War I, he worked in Paris for his uncle, Adolphe Worch (1843-1915) who sold Chinese and Japanese antiquities. During World War I, the French government confiscated all his uncle's property and Edgar Worch returned to Germany. After the war, he opened his own gallery in Berlin and sold Chinese art, primarily ceramics. In 1939, he and his wife, Hedwig moved to New York City.

Worch owned this sculpture by August 1913; see letter from Marie Meyer-Riefstahl to Charles Lang Freer, August 10, 1913. In this letter, she introduces the sculpture to Freer as "a very fine piece of Chinese sculpture owned by our old friend (!) Worch." Meyer-Riefstahl continues: "The carving is enhanced by the traces of the old colors and although unfortunately the hands are missing their loss is not too strongly felt, so powerful the expression of the head." Copy of letter in accession file. In another letter from Marie Meyer-Riefstahl to Charles Lang Freer, September 21, 1913, she reports that Worch believes the sculpture "came from the Honan [Henan province]." Copy of letter in accession file.

[2] Marie Meyer-Riefstahl (Marie Louise Nordlinger) and her husband, Rudolf Meyer-Riefstahl were social acquaintances of Charles Lang Freer. The couple frequently purchased books and works of art on his behalf. Marie Meyer-Riefstahl was a cloisonne artist and friend and collaborator with Marcel Proust (1871-1922). Additionally, she worked as an art agent of the Paris dealer Siegfried Bing. Sometime after 1913, Marie and Rudolph divorced and Marie became known by her maiden name once more, Marie Louise Nordlinger. She helped Freer catalogue his collection of East Asian and Middle Eastern objects around the time when Freer was devising a plan to gift his collection to the nation. For information on Nordlinger's aid in cataloguing Freer's collection, see Gabriel P. Weisberg, Art Nouveau Bing: Paris Style 1900 (New York and Washington DC: Harry N. Abrams, INC Publishers with Smithsonian Institution, 1986), 41-42.

Meyer-Riefstahl purchased this sculpture on behalf of Freer in September of 1913; see letter from Marie Meyer-Riefstahl to Charles Lang Freer, September 13, 1913 and letter from Charles Lang Freer to Marie Meyer-Riefstahl, September 16, 1913, copies in accession file. Meyer-Riefstahl purchased the sculpture from Worch and had it shipped to Washington, DC by October 13, 1913; see letter from Marie Meyer-Riefstahl to Charles Lang Freer, October 13, 1913, copy in accession file.

[3] Charles Lang Freer issued payment to Marie Meyer-Riefstahl on October 13, 1913; see voucher 11869, October 13, 1913, from Charles Lang Freer to Mrs. R. Meyer-Riefstahl, copy in accession file.

[4] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Marie (C.L. Freer source) 1876-1961
Edgar Worch 1880-1972

Published References
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century: Over 900 Specimens in Stone, Bronze, Lacquer and Wood, Principally from Northern China. 4 vols., London. vol. 3: pl. 286.
  • Mizuno Seiichi. Bronze and Stone Sculpture of China: From the Yin to the Tang dynasty. Tokyo. pl. 69.
  • Sir Leigh Ashton. An Introduction to the Study of Chinese Sculpture. London. pl. 25.
  • Osvald Siren. Quelques observations sur les imitations des anciennes sculptures chinoises. vol. 1, no. 1 Washington and Zurich. p. 72.
  • Saburo Matsubara. Chinese Buddhist Sculpture [Chugoku Bukkyo chokokushi kenkyu]: A Study Based on Bronze and Stone Statues other than Works from Cave Temples. Tokyo, 1961-1971. p. 162, fig. 130.
  • Mrs. Hin-cheung Lovell. Some Northern Chinese Wares of the Sixth and Seventh Centuries. vol. 21, no. 4, Winter 1975. pp. 328-343, fig. 20.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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