Historical Buddha

Dry lacquer figure. Image of the Sakyamuni Buddha in seated position. Hands missing and long earlobes broken off. Hole in back and hollow underneath. Traces of color on the robe, and gilt on the flesh parts.

Historical period(s)
Sui dynasty or early Tang dynasty, late 6th-early 7th century
Medium
Hemp cloth, lacquer, wood, metal wire, and glass with traces of pigment and gilding
Dimensions
H x W x D: 99.5 x 72.5 x 56.7 cm (39 3/16 x 28 9/16 x 22 5/16 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1944.46
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Lacquer, Sculpture
Type

Buddhist sculpture

Keywords
Buddhism, China, Gautama Buddha, Sui dynasty (581 - 618), WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

Dry lacquer figure. Image of the Sakyamuni Buddha in seated position. Hands missing and long earlobes broken off. Hole in back and hollow underneath. Traces of color on the robe, and gilt on the flesh parts.

Label

The aloof grace and lean proportions of this image of the historical Buddha are typical of sixth-century Chinese sculpture. The naturalistic drapery and hints of anatomical modeling, however, suggest a date closer to the seventh century. Layers of lacquer-impregnated fabric were draped over a clay core and covered with a lacquer-based paste that was modeled to create the details. After the lacquer dried, the clay core was removed, leaving a lightweight, durable shell that was painted and embellished with gold. This technique of work is called "dry lacquer."

Published References
  • The Allure of Matter: Materiality Across Chinese Art. Chicago, Illinois, November 17, 2021. pg. 48, fig. 7.
  • Chugoku bijutsu [Chinese Art in Western Collections]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1972-1973. vol. 3: pl. 76.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 83, vol. 1: p. 173.
  • Grace Dunham Guest, Archibald Gibson Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 7.
  • Alexander Coburn Soper. Literary Evidence for Early Buddhist Art in China. vol. 9 Washington and Zurich. pp. 19-21.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 43.
  • Paths to Perfection, Buddhist Art at the Freer/Sackler. Washington. pp. 44-45.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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