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Article

S. J. Vernoit

(Noel)

(b London, Dec 25, 1881; d Wendover, Bucks, Feb 28, 1968).

English civil servant and collector of Islamic and Chinese art. The eldest son of Sir Thomas Barlow, royal physician and president of the Royal College of Physicians, he was educated at Marlborough and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In 1906 he was appointed to a clerkship in the House of Commons, by 1933 he was principal private secretary to the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, and from 1934 to 1948 he served at the Treasury. He began collecting Oriental ceramics in 1900 and started acquiring Islamic pottery five years later, amassing a comprehensive collection with a special emphasis on Ottoman and Iranian items within 20 years. He built up his collection of Chinese art in the early 1920s, when several British collectors led by George Eumorfopoulos acquired objects excavated in China. Barlow preferred early austere Chinese pottery with little polychrome decoration. During the 1920s and 1930s he also continued to acquire Islamic items, and some of his pieces were shown in ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Liverpool, April 18, 1863; d London, Dec 19, 1939).

English collector. The eldest son of a Greek merchant, Eumorfopoulos worked for the merchant firm of Ralli Brothers. He initially collected European porcelains and Japanese tea bowls but then turned to Chinese objects, which became his largest collection, emphasizing pottery and porcelains. His second interest was metalwork, and he formed a fine collection of Chinese bronzes; he was also interested in other media, such as jade. He chose items based on his aesthetic response rather than archaeological or rarity value, and he thus placed himself at the forefront of Western taste for Chinese art. From 1924 he also began to acquire Islamic art and formed a separate Chinese collection for the Benaki Museum, Athens, so that the museum eventually had nearly 800 examples of Chinese pottery and porcelain. Eumorfopoulos was elected the first president of the Oriental Ceramic Society in 1921 and retained this position until his death, his house becoming central to the activities of the society. In ...

Article

Toru Asano

(b Tokyo, June 23, 1891; d Tokuyama, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Dec 20, 1929).

Japanese painter and collector. Son of the progressive journalist Ginkō Kishida (1833–1905), he decided to leave school when he was 15, became a Christian and devoted himself to church activities. At the same time he painted and struggled with the decision of whether to live as a Christian or as a painter. In 1908 he entered the Aoibashi Western Painting Study Centre and studied plein-air painting under Seiki Kuroda (1866–1924), exhibiting two years later at the fourth Bunten, a show sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Education. From the end of 1911 to early 1912 he was inspired by the work of modern French painters, which he discovered through the magazine Shirakaba (‘White birch’) and through illustrated books. The Self-portrait Wearing a Coat (1912; Tokyo, priv. col., see Hijikata, ed., 1980, pl. 1) was clearly painted under the influence of Vincent van Gogh and Tsukiji Settlement...

Article

Kōmyō  

Samuel C. Morse

(b ad 701; d 760).

Japanese empress, Buddhist patron and calligrapher. She was the consort of Shōmu, her half-brother and the 45th emperor of Japan (reg 724–49). Kōmyō was the daughter of Fujiwara no Fubito (659–720), a powerful aristocrat who was also the father of Shōmu’s mother, and Agata Inukai no Tachibana no Michiyo (d 733). Kōmyō and Shōmu, who married in 716, were two of the most fervent Buddhist patrons in the history of Japanese art. They and their family are said to have commissioned 24 complete sets of the Buddhist canon of texts (Jap. issaikyō or daizōkyō), at that time numbering 5048 volumes, and they frequently took up the brush to copy sūtras and the Chinese classics themselves. No extant works can be firmly attributed to Kōmyō, but a copy of the Luoyi lun (Jap. Gakkiron; Nara, Shōsōin) in the style of the 4th-century master Wang Xizhi (...

Article

Junghee Lee

Korean dynasty that ruled from ad 918 to 1392. The Koryŏ kings were lavish in their patronage of Buddhist art of the major groups such as Sŏn and Kyo (see Buddhism §III 9.). Wang kŏn, posthumously known as King T’aejo (reg ad 918–43), founder of the dynasty, made Buddhism central to his rule and commissioned the building of the royal palace (see Korea, §II, 3, (iii), (a)) at Songak (now Kaesŏng), Kyŏnggi Province; which he had made the capital in 919. King T’aejo also established Buddhist temples in and around the capital and built a number of temples in the provinces as did the kings who succeeded him. Under his rule numerous annual Buddhist ceremonies were established to honour the Buddha and thus protect the country from foreign invasions; these ceremonies were performed until the end of the Koryŏ period.

The Koryŏ kings commissioned professional painters of the Tohwawŏn (Academy of Painting) (...

Article

Henrik H. Sørensen

(b Kyoto, 1876; d Beppu, Ōita Prefect., 1948).

Japanese collector, geographer and Buddhist priest. In 1901, while studying in London, the young Otani became acquainted with Stein, Sir (Marc) Aurel, who had just returned from his first Central Asian expedition, and was inspired to undertake similar excavations. In 1902 Otani and four Japanese assistants set out for Central Asia, where they stayed until 1904, having worked in various sites in Khotan, Kuccha and Turfan (see Astana). A second, smaller expedition was organized in 1908–9 by Otani under the leadership of Zuichō Tachibana and Eizaburō Nomura, who excavated several sites on both the northern and the southern routes of the Silk Route. Finally, a third expedition was launched in 1910; this lasted nearly five years, ending in 1914. Although none of the Otani expeditions was conducted on a genuinely scientific basis, they led to the discovery of a considerable number of artefacts, including clay and terracotta sculptures, fragments of wall paintings, silk objects, as well as numerous manuscripts in Chinese and several Central Asian languages. Today most of the material collected by the Otani expeditions is in three collections; the Lüxun Museum in Liaoning, the National Museum of Korea in Seoul and the National Museum in Tokyo (...

Article

Noémie Goldman and Kim Oosterlinck

Term for the return of lost or looted cultural objects to their country of origin, former owners, or their heirs. The loss of the object may happen in a variety of contexts (armed conflicts, war, colonialism, imperialism, or genocide), and the nature of the looted cultural objects may also vary, ranging from artworks, such as paintings and sculptures, to human remains, books, manuscripts, and religious artefacts. An essential part of the process of restitution is the seemingly unavoidable conflict around the transfer of the objects in question from the current to the former owners. Ownership disputes of this nature raise legal, ethical, and diplomatic issues. The heightened tensions in the process arise because the looting of cultural objects challenges, if not breaks down, relationships between peoples, territories, cultures, and heritages.

The history of plundering and art imperialism may be traced back to ancient times. Looting has been documented in many instances from the sack by the Romans of the Etruscan city of Veii in ...

Article

Saga  

Samuel C. Morse

(b ad 786; reg 809–23; d 842).

Japanese emperor, poet, calligrapher and patron of the Shingon sect of Esoteric Buddhism. Along with Kūkai and Tachibana no Hayanari, he is regarded as one of the Sanpitsu (Three Brushes; master calligraphers) of the Heian period (ad 794–1185) (see Japan §VII 2., (ii)). He was the second son of Emperor Kanmu (reg 781–806), who founded the capital Heian (now Kyoto) in 794, and Empress Otomuro (ad 760–90). In 809 he succeeded his half-brother, Emperor Heizei (reg 806–9), to the throne as the 52nd emperor of Japan, and although he abdicated in 823, Saga remained the most powerful figure at court until his death. Politically the most significant event of his career occurred in 810 when Heizei attempted to return the centre of government to the old capital of Heijō (now Nara). Saga and his allies quickly crushed the rebellion, thereby assuring a pre-eminent cultural role for Kyoto in subsequent Japanese history. Saga had a deep passion for Chinese culture. He actively promoted the use of Chinese modes of dress and the adoption of Chinese nomenclature for the various structures of the imperial palace. He wrote accomplished poetry in Chinese and was responsible for the compilation of two imperial anthologies, the ...

Article

Shōmu  

Samuel C. Morse

(b Heijō [now Nara], ad 701; reg 724–49; d Nara, 756).

Forty-fifth emperor of Japan, patron of Buddhism and calligrapher. He was the eldest son of Emperor Monmu (reg 697–707) and Fujiwara no Miyako [Kyūshi] (d 754), daughter of Fujiwara no Fuhito (659–720), a powerful aristocrat who was also the father of Shōmu’s consort, Empress Kōmyō. His reign, which almost coincided with the Tenpyō era (729–49), was marked by a flowering of culture and religion, dominated by the emperor and his consort. Fine Buddhist paintings were created, as were sculptures, made not only of wood and gilt bronze but also of new materials such as clay and dry lacquer (kanshitsu). Shōmu and Kōmyō established a scriptorium within the imperial palace and frequently commissioned sets of the Buddhist texts to be disseminated throughout the country. Skilled calligraphers themselves, they also copied sūtras and the Chinese classics. No extant works can be firmly attributed to Shōmu, but a small number of objects long associated with him reflect his familiarity with the styles of the great 4th-century Chinese master Wang Xizhi (...

Article

John T. Carpenter

(b Asuka, ad 574; d Asuka, 622).

Japanese crown prince (taishi), statesman, patron of Buddhism and the arts and calligrapher. He was known during his lifetime by various nicknames reflecting the circumstances of his birth and his personal attributes. Although historical evidence has been obscured by legend, the Nihon shoki (‘Chronicle of Japan’; 720) suggests that Shōtoku wielded political power by serving as regent for his aunt, Empress Suiko (reg 593–628), after an intense six-year power struggle over the imperial succession. He is said to have instituted reforms of the court rank system, initiated diplomatic relations with China and helped frame the Seventeen-Article Constitution (Jūshichijō no kenpō; 604), an early statement of Japanese universalist philosophy, consisting of moral injunctions for government officials. More significantly, he was a fervent patron of Buddhism who helped foster closer religious and cultural ties with the continent. He is believed to have lectured on three Buddhist sūtras, the ...

Article

Robert W. Kramer

Alcove for seating or decorative display in a traditional Japanese room. In the Kamakura period (1185–1333) this space was set aside for the display of devotional objects in a Buddhist monastic setting; typically a hanging scroll or scrolls were placed on the rear wall of the space and a candle, flowerpot and incense burner in front. Monks would recite sūtras in a hall where this altar-like setting was the main decoration. At different times the tokonoma was used for a variety of other purposes. The space was sometimes two-thirds the width of a major audience chamber, and a section of its floor was raised above the rest of the room, in some cases by up to 200 mm. It was therefore a suitable place of honour, where high-ranking warriors and aristocrats sat to give audiences to their social inferiors. The tokonoma was commonly found in rooms in the ...

Article

Milo Cleveland Beach

(b Metz, 1854; d 1942)

French jeweller and collector. Vever directed the family jewellery business, begun in Metz by his grandfather Pierre-Paul Vever (d 1853). After the capture of Metz in the Franco-Prussian War (1871), the family moved to Luxembourg and then Paris, where the Maison Vever became well established on the Rue de la Paix, winning the Grand Prix of the universal expositions in 1889 and 1900 and becoming a leader in the Art Nouveau movement. Vever gave an important group of Art Nouveau works to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. His early interest in contemporary French painting led him to assemble a large and important group of works by Corot, Sisley, Renoir and Monet, of which he sold the majority (Paris, Gal. Georges Petit, 1897) to concentrate on Japanese and Islamic art. Vever had begun to collect Japanese prints in the 1880s and in 1892 joined the distinguished private group ...