Sculpture from China’s Northern Dynasties dating from 386 to 577 A.D. will be the subject of the Asian art show at Throckmorton Fine Art (www.throckmorton-nyc.com) from March 3 to April 23 at its New York gallery at 145 East 57th Street.
According to gallery founder Spencer Throckmorton, “The focus of our 2016 Asian exhibition will be on sculpture from China’s Northern Dynasties including Northern Wei, Eastern Wei and Northern Qi examples, with an emphasis on artworks dating to the sixth century A.D. A detailed catalog will accompany the exhibition.
“The nearly two hundred year period surrounding the sixth century was a particularly rich period of artistic production of Buddhist sculpture as Buddhism was adopted at the highest levels of Chinese society, and richly patronized by the Imperial courts of the successive dynasties. The quality and beauty of these examples can serve to illustrate the high artistic level of the sculpture of this era, and its development over this period.
“This will be the fifth exhibition of Chinese Buddhist sculpture we have staged since 2007, each time working in concert with leading scholars and experts on the subject. We are fortunate to have had Dr. Chang Qing to write the catalog text, and we benefit from the contributions of Dr. Elizabeth Childs Johnson, who has provided counsel on many of our exhibitions. I would also like to also thank Norberto Rivera for the design, Kraige Block for display, support and planning, and Oren Echaus and Henrick Smiliger for photography.
“In the Northern Qi kingdom, roughly modern day Shandong province in China, there were reputedly some 40,000 Buddhist temples, monasteries and establishments, and some one million clergy, both monks and nuns, attending to them. This led to enormous production of sculpture. As a result of the tremendous success and resultant wealth of these Buddhist establishments periodic anti-Buddhist pogroms by Confucian-leaning emperors were staged, which by the late Tang period, 850 A.D., lent a blow to Buddhism from which the religion never really recovered.
Many of the sculptures in the Throckmorton Northern Dynasties show date to the Northern Qi period 550-577 CE. One highlight is a marble Head of Bodhisattva wearing a jeweled three-plaqued crown with two ribbons hanging from the sides with charming naturalistic carvings. “This female form face was influenced by Indian Gupta 320-550 CE style Bodhisattva figures and represented a big stylistic shift from the Northern Wei period, which had been influenced by traditional Han-Chinese culture to Xianbei, a nomadic people from Northeast China. There is a high level of workmanship. Also from the Northern Qi is a double Guanyin Bodhisattva Figure Stele made of marble with a pair of standing figures. “They depict a typical style of Bodhisattva images from the Northern Qi period, with Indian influence. Each of the Guanyin figures steps a lotus pedestal, symbolizing the purity of Buddhism.” A third Northern Qi figure on display at Throckmorton is a Seated Guanyin Bodhisattva made of marble depicting ornamentation and costumes of the late Northern Wei period but with an Indian influence. His left hand holds a mani pearl, a wish-fulfilling jewel in Buddhism.
From the Northern Zhou period 557-581 CE Throckmorton is showing a Seated Maitreya Bodhisattva with an oval plump face and columnar style plump body sitting on a throne in European posture with his feet on two lotus flowers. This represents the Maitreya, the future Buddha. According to Buddhism Maitreya’s future Kingdom will be joyful and happy. A Bodhisattva wearing a long scarf and long string of jewelry is an old tradition from Northern Wei but the complicated configuration of the jewelry seen on this figure was an alteration of Northern Zhou artists. Some similar Maitreya Bodhisattvas can be seen in the Northern Zhou or Sui 581-618 or Tang period Buddhist sites including the cliff image site in Yao County of Shaanxi Province.
In addition to showcasing Chinese jades and Asian art, Throckmorton specializes in pre-Columbian art and vintage and contemporary Latin American photography. Throckmorton participates in internationally acclaimed fairs, including The Winter Antiques Show in New York, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) show and stages important annual exhibitions in the spring during Asia Week.
More information: www.throckmorton-nyc.com