Chinese - Guanyin, 11th century-12th century


Guanyin, 11th century-12th century

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


Object details

Accession number



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


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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Bodhisattvas are enlightened Buddhist beings who have delayed entering Nirvana in order to aid other sentient beings. The Chinese name Guanyin itself means “One who heeds the cries (of others).” Known as Avalokite?vara in Sanskrit, 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 once displayed as an icon in a Buddhist temple, and it seems fitting that Mrs. Gardner placed it over the doorway leading to her private chamber for meditation, which was filled with Buddhist icons and other Asian objects.

Source: Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 183.


German, Nuremberg

Prayer Book