Cast bronze with gilding, 20 x 7 inches. Santali refers to tribal groups; sometimes it is used to mean tribes of a certain region, but it is also used generically to reference tribals, that is, indigenous Indian peoples who were never fully assimilated into Hindu India. In this sense, images such as these are relevant to discussions of the caste or varna system of South Asia and the official government policy of reservation for Untouchables, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes that formed a part of the Constitution of the Republic of India. This is comparable to what in the US would be called Affirmative Action, but with much more specific initiatives. The notion that there are indigenous peoples of India who are regarded as having inhabited the subcontinent prior to the appearance of the Aryan tribes who brought their Sanskritic traditions can provide provocative possibilities for discussion in a range of disciplines (Religious Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, History, Art History). These are relatively large (Ganesha is over 3 ft. in height; Siva-Kali about 2 feet) and quite handsome pieces which follow more or less standard Hindu iconographic schemes (the Hindu deities Siva, Kali, Ganesha) but in style depart from the styles of sculpture practiced in Hindu states and courts. Thus they lend themselves to discussions of standard Hindu iconography as well as to the nature of tribal traditions in South Asia; they could also generate interesting discussions of 'classical' versus 'tribal' in Asian art: what makes a work' folk' art (that is, its origin, its makers or patrons, its formal qualities?). And how have tribal and classical traditions come to intersect and interact in the last century? While these are designated as 19th century they may in fact be more recent in manufacture.
Figure in a boat amid willow trees. This attractive landscape exemplifies the problems of securely identifying an artist, when no other supporting evidence is available. There were no less than five artists with the pen name Baihua (white flower) listed in the dictionary. Of these, three were calligraphers, two painters. Those two were Li Zhi and Shen Cheng and Shen Cheng. Both were active in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Since the character above the seal could possibly be Li, I have used his name first, but it is not clearly written, nor is the seal, which should be a surname, clear enough to interpret. As in other examples, one can only wait for another painting with one of the names to come to light, and then compare the calligraphy and painting technique. The scene is of a marshy river valley, through which a stream flows. A single boat with one figure at the paddle moves over the water; to the left is a rustic bridge that leads toward the higher ground at left. The brush-covered rocks at far left trail off into the distant hills in the rear. The landscape was painted with a soft blunt brush, and all details are only roughly sketched in. The technique is competent, and the artist developed an effective composition.
Passing a rainy day picking duckweed. The name of this unidentified artist is interpolated from his signature (Yang, the jade field farmer) and the seal (Qixia). This is little better than a guess, and is certainly not definitive. To make things more interesting, there is an artist named Su Changchun, who lived in the mid nineteenth century, who has the pen name of Qixia. Unfortunately there is no indication of the surname Su in the inscription. As usual, the date could be any number in the repeating sixty-year cycle. The painting is of a pleasant domestic scene. A woman in elegant attire sits in a skiff and reaches into the water to touch the plants. To the right is a large rock, from which grows a willow. The willow's branches reach out and drop into the scene at top center, framing the boat and woman. As the title suggests, she is picking duckweed (marsilea quadrifolia), which is used in Chinese medicines as well as a food. The painting is undistinguished in its brushwork, although the composition is interesting.
Two scholars, one with a qin, seated on a riverbank with two large pines in the foreground. Ju-hsi Chou mentions Dejian in his essay on southern painters, and points out that he was a prominent landscape artist in Shanghai in the 1860s. Another source extends his period of activity through the late nineteenth-century. One other painting by Jin Dejian is mentioned in a recent catalog, unfortunately, not illustrated. It is interesting to compare this image to that found in the work by Lianxi, also in this collection. Both use the same visual conceit of the scholar in the landscape with his musical instrument. The artist in other works focuses on the figure, and the landscape seems somehow unimportant. In this fan, the great pine trees and the vista that opens up to the right dwarf the diminutive figures. The result is that the scene is both more contemplative and more suggestive of meaning.
Fourth set of two images of women from bound accordion-fold album of 30 woodblock prints with colophon. One half of full series of 50 prints depicting Japanese women of different historical periods highlighting their hairstyles and modes of dress.
Carved gilt lotus bud on lotus pedestal with cavity in center sealed with glass. Contains a small pedestal and a white pebble. Gilt and lacquered wood, glass, copper, stone; H: 4â€ W: 2 1/2â€.
1/2 length portrait of kabuki actor Sawamura Tossho in the role of Kino. Color woodblock print; image: 14 1/4â€ x 9 1/2â€ (36.2 cm x 23.7 cm), sheet: 14 7/8â€ x 10â€ (37.8 cm x 25.5 cm).
Sixrth set of two images of women from bound accordion-fold album of 30 woodblock prints with colophon. One half of full series of 50 prints depicting Japanese women of different historical periods highlighting their hairstyles and modes of dress.
Tenth set of two images of women from bound accordion-fold album of 30 woodblock prints with colophon. One half of full series of 50 prints depicting Japanese women of different historical periods highlighting their hairstyles and modes of dress.
Man & woman with umbrella strolling in foreground; Snowy river landscape with building (restaurant) behind. Wood cut print on paper; 13 3/8â€ x 9â€; sheet size 14 3/4â€ x 9 3/4â€.
Porcelain with incised design under glaze, the rim bound with copper (Ding ware). Diameter: 7.5" This is a fine example of Ding ware, one of the earliest types of porcelains made in China
Squat, fluted cylindrical on ringed foot; gray stoneware covered with satiny cream-colored glaze. 4 1/4 x 4 3/4".
Wood-carved with added white paint. This handsome figure is another Manderman folk piece. She seems to most closely resemble what are often called bhuta figures from 19th-20th-century Karnataka. Bhuta is another term that is used in various ways; in the orthodox tradition it has meaning associated with ghosts, with evil forces, with potentially malevolent spirits. Bhuta has been used as a term to signify those malevolent spritis outside the orthodox traditions of Hinduism and thus has also come to signifiy, more generically, folk deities, powerful forces outside the pantheon of the Hindu tradition; but in this sense these are not necessarily malevolent or destructive; rather they are beings/ forces/ spirits of limited and often highly localized powers. What this figure shares with other Karnataka figures that have been termed bhutas are the material and general form: she is made of wood, rather simply carved, with a strongly stylized, geometric body. Her body is contructed of a series of geometric shapes, with tubular arms, a cylindrical trunk pinched at the waist, her face strongly circular with large ears that project at a direct perpendicular from the cheeks. The details of the face are simplified in a manner that is shared with the marble Jina. There are several details that set this figure apart from better-known so-called bhutas from Karnataka: she seems to wear a garment that covers her upper body, a feature quite unusual in the depiction of females in Indian art in general and in typical bhutas from Karnataka, in which the upper body is also usually nude except for jewelry; her skirt falls in wide gores with only a few folds, while in most bhuta figures from Karnataka the skirt is rendered in a continuous series of thin folds that create a more detailed pattern of vertical forms along the lower body; and rarely are typical Karnataka bhutas painted, as this figure is. Further research may suggest a different provenance, as wooden 'folk' figures hail from many regions.
Plum blossoms with inscription. Tang Yifen is very well known, and a sort of Renaissance man in Chinese terms. He held an inherited military post, traveled widely, had interests in astronomy, geography, music, poetry, and, of course, painting and calligraphy. He died in 1853 when the Taiping rebels stormed the city of Nanjing where he lived out the last decades of his life, and was considered a martyr to the cause of the Qing government. This painting is of prunus blossoms, with an inscription in the artist's distinctive calligraphy. A single branch rises from the bottom edge of the fan and the tip of one slender twig just touches the top, another the right border. The date of 1803 would make this one of the very earliest works from the artist's hand. It is a fine painting, and the compositional decision to have the flowers take up only a small percentage of the available space contributes to the sense of their delicacy and spatial isolation. One can almost catch the faint scent of the blossoms in the air. The history of the subject and its changes over time have been recorded by Maggie Bickord.
Piece from Spirit of Harmony, a twelve piece suite, acrylic on paper. Like many contemporary painters, Wang Ming works in series; the works in the Fairfield collection are all multiples: the pair of acrylic on canvas works that hang in the Canisius stairwell; the twelve-piece suite on paper on view in the library; the pair of paintings in acrylic on paper in the Quick Center; and the lengthy scrolls painted on paper and mounted on linen that hang in the lobby of the science building. These works indicate the range of style and technique that characterizes Wang Ming's painting, from monochrome brushwork-style painting that alludes to both traditional Chinese brush painting as well as to the gestural painting that was being created in the New York art world when Wang Ming first arrived in the US from China in the mid-20th century; to works of rich and subtle color, to the more bold color and brushwork of the scrolls. All are abstract, as is characteristic of the artist's work in general; his abstract styles may be understood as referencing not only the long tradition of calligraphy as an abstract art form in China and the inherently abstact nature of much traditional Chinese painting but also, again, the avante-garde art movement Abstract Expressionism, which dominated the New York art world in the mid-20th century. Wang Ming's work consciously and seamlessly bridges and unites these varied aspects of his own artistic heritage and interests.
Two women seated in a pavilion by the water. The artist is not recorded in standard sources. For the record, there is an individual with the pen name Xisai named Tai Zhengqi. He was active in the late nineteenth century, about the time the fan was painted. He is not from Quantang (Hangzhou), however, and he was known as a calligrapher, not a painter. The painting is not without merit. The landscape depicted is complex; on the right a river valley draws the eye back into space. On the left the mountain peaks close in around a temple nestled among a grove of blossoming trees. Just to the right of center, two women are seated in a pavilion whose foundation rises from the water. This is not a standard scene, especially for a fan, and it would have taken someone who knew the art of painting to arrange all these pieces into an effective composition.
Bronze, 14 x 6 in. The Buddha head closely follows stylistic traditions of 16th-century Thailand, the Ayuthaya period/ dynasty, when the Thais became an independent and unified kingdom. Whether this is a 16th-century object or a modern copy is less important than the paradigms of Thai sculptural form that it embodies. The idealized form of the Buddha image depicted here follows a formal trajectory that can ultimately be traced back to Gupta-era India; that is, the form of the Buddha's body is idealized in terms of certain preconceived notions of the ideal body that originated in aesthetic texts of Gupta-era India. Thus this handsome Buddha head epitomizes the notion of physical beauty but simultaneously conveys the understanding of the Buddha as a detached, divine, and transcendant being. The aesthetic conventions of his depiction, like Buddhism itself, were long-established across a cultural region that stretched from the homeland of the Buddha in northeastern India to the farthest lands of East and Southeast Asia. Thus in Thailand at this time, while artists had long ceased depending directly on South Asia as a formal source, shared assumptions about the nature of the Buddha created a shared notion for sculptural form.
At least nine distinct blocks of calligraphy written in a tiny regular script on a round-shaped fan. Out of the ten signatures on the piece, two have been identified, Ye Xiuchang and Wang Lanshen. The date of 1880 would have occurred late in both of their lives. Such a piece as this would be of interest primarily for the text. Other than the skill involved in writing at this scale, there is little artistic value.
Copper alloy; 20.5 inches in height. Vishnu is one of the three major deities in Hinduism and is thought to be the preserver of the universe. Here he is shown with his attributes of the conch shell ('sankha') and the wheel ('cakra') in two of his four hands, his dhoti neatly pleated and with meditation cords around his waist. His crown is typically cylindrical and surmounted with a bud-shaped finial and bordered with triangular foliate medallions. Created during the Vijayanagar period (1350-1565 CE), the god is posed to be carried by the temple priests in a parade-like procession through the streets.
Arita ware porcelain with overglaze enamels, underglaze blue, and gold. Diameter: 12 1/2". Porcelains made in Arita are known by various names according to their dating and decorative schemes. Those ornamented exclusively with underglaze cobalt blue, the first porcelains made in Japan, are generally known as Imari, the name for the port city from which some of them were exported to Europe. Those with brightly colored overglaze enamel colors are generally known as Arita wares. Their production required special technical knowledge garnered from China. This fine bowl is adorned with brightly-colored chrysanthemum flowers and graceful, scrolling leaf vines articulated in kinrande (gold brocade decoration). This bowl was created during the 18th century, when Japanese artisans had refined and naturalized Chinese decorative schemes.
Seated figure of singer with hands clapping; covered in yellow glaze except for knees which are covered in turquoise paint; old label on bottom from MIA and VA & T. 6 7/8 x 4 3/4 x 4 1/2".