Chinese - Guanyin, 11th century-12th century

Chinese

Guanyin, 11th century-12th century

Painted wood with remains of gilding, 116.8 cm (46 in.)

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Object details

Accession number

S8w1

Provenance

Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from the dealer Parish-Watson & Co. Inc., New York, for $19,800 in 1919.

Bibliography

Laurence Binyon. "A Masterpiece of Chinese Sculpture." Art in America 7 (October 1919), pp. 225-27.
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 57, pl. 5.
William N. Mason. “Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 6, no. 47 (21 Jul. 1963), pp. 1-2.
Yasuko Horioka et al. Oriental and Islamic Art: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston: 1975), pp. 22-25, ills.
Rollin van N. Hadley. Museums Discovered: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. (Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 1981), 200-201, ill.
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), 183, ill.
Alan Chong and Noriko Murai. Journeys East: Isabella Stewart Gardner and Asia. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2009), pp. 37-39 figs. 39-40, 41, 440-41 fig. 16.


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Commentary


The Chinese name Guanyin means "One who heeds the cries (of others)."  Guanyin was first worshipped in India and subsequently introduced into China. As is customary, Guanyin is clad in the sumptuous garb of an Indian prince. This statue was originally displayed as an icon in a Buddhist temple. Gardner placed it over the doorway leading to a chamber filled with Japanese and Chinese art that she nicknamed the "Buddha Room.” Not considered part of the museum's original installation, this gallery was emptied and its works sold off in 1971, a tragic episode in the museum's history.

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