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Volume 37 Number 4, September 1984

Volume 37 Number 4

Three American Collections of Asian Art - Freer, Brundage, and Rockefeller, 3rd

Pratapaditya Pal

Charles Lang Freer (1856–1919)
Robert E. Fisher

Avery Brundage (1887–1975)
Clarence F. Shangraw

John D. Rockefeller, 3rd (1906–1978)
Robert L. Brown

Book Review

Note: The Yakshis from Sanghol
Deepa Nag

Selections from the Pan-Asian Collection
Pratapaditya Pal

Pal, Pratapaditya
Vol. 37 No. 4, September 1984, pp. 3-8 [Also in American Collectors of Asian Art edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 37 No. 4/Vol. 38 No. 1, September 1986; pp. 2-8]

This article is a brief survey of the history of private collecting of Asian art in America. It highlights the importance of the Boston area in terms of being the home to pioneer collectors as well as the Boston Museum which first housed collections of Asian art. The rage for Japonisme, swept through America as it did Europe. This introduction gives an idea of the passions, the single-mindedness, and the tastes of the individuals who, for different reasons and motivations, devoted their lives and wealth to collecting art. Most private collections in America end up in public institutions where they are preserved for posterity and are accessible to all who are interested in art and culture.

Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919)
Fisher, Robert E.
Vol. 37 No. 4, September 1984, pp. 9-28 [Also in American Collectors of Asian Art edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 37 No. 4/Vol. 38 No. 1, September 1986; pp. 9-28]

Charles Freer belongs to that first generation of enterprising Americans who gathered great collections of art during the late 19th and first decades of the 20th centuries. The pioneering efforts of these Americans built many of the great American collections and helped establish and support the prestigious museums in such cities as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Each of the early collectors of Asian art was devoted to the art of one country, usually Japan. However, Charles Freer had the vision to see beyond the arts of one individual Asian country and acquire objects from nearly all cultures, including the Near East. His legacy of over 9000 objects, given to the country in 1906 is a unique testimonial to a true pioneer in the field of Asian art. The Freer collection is the first body of pan-Asian art ever gathered by one individual and the material added over the years continues to reflect the high standards established by its founder. Today, the Freer Gallery in Washington, DC is unsurpassed in its balance of breadth and quality. This article discusses the influences of other collectors and dealers on Freer, his travels to Asia, including his last trip, important pieces from his collection, and his gift to the nation.

Avery Brundage (1887-1975)
Shangraw, Clarence F.
Vol. 37 No. 4, September 1984, pp. 29-52 [Also in American Collectors of Asian Art edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 37 No. 4/Vol. 38 No. 1, September 1986; pp. 29-52]

In 1966, Avery Brundage presented his collection of over 6000 items of Asian art to a museum in San Francisco. The museum would later be known as the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Brundage spent over half a lifetime on his collecting passion. He was a Chicago businessman and self-made millionaire, who amassed according to many the greatest private collection of Asian art in the world. He was an Olympic competitor and the president of the International Olympic Committee from 1952 to 1972. The Burlington House Exhibition of Chinese art in London in 1935 had an impact on Brundage, and since then he began to actively collect Asian art. The Chinese art assemblage formed the bulk of his collection. With over 4000 items in his original gift, Chinese art still constitutes over half his museum collection. But his collection also included fine examples of Japanese, Korean, Indian, Himalayan, Southeast Asian, and Near Eastern art.

John D. Rockefeller, 3rd (1906-1978)
Brown, Robert L.
Vol. 37 No. 4, September 1984, pp. 53-72 [Also in American Collectors of Asian Art edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 37 No. 4/Vol. 38 No. 1, September 1986; pp. 53-72]

John D Rockefeller, 3rd liked art that was classical and simple. He preferred three-dimensional objects such as ceramics and sculptures, the latter particularly in bronze. Collecting was not for John 3rd a personal passion, nor was he involved in buying and selling art. As with most of his activities, he was willing to distance himself from the mechanics of collecting and was assisted by his artistic advisor, Sherman E Lee. His collecting Asian art was part of a general philanthropic and social interest in Asia. The philanthropic quality was one that was passed down by his illustrious family members. In 1974, John 3rd made public his intention to give his collection to one of the institutions he founded, The Asia Society. The collection opened to the public in galleries especially designed for the material at the Society's new headquarters in New York in 1981. His collection is rich in the arts of Japan and China, and the largest portion of his collection is composed of East Asian material. However, he also collected substantially from the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

Book Review
Vol. 37 No. 4, September 1984, p. 73

Ramo Vigrahvan Dharmah: Rama Embodiment of Righteousness by C. Sivaramamurti reviewed by Anand Krishna.

Note: The Yakshis from Sanghol
Nag, Deepa
Vol. 37 No. 4, September 1984, pp. 74-77

An exciting and remarkable discovery has been the unearthing of beautiful red sandstone dryads or salabhanjikas, as they are known in Indian literature, at Sanghol in Punjab. These sculptures belonging to the Mathura school of art, 1st-2nd century CE, were found in the vicinity of an ancient Buddhist stupa and monastery complex, some 2000 years after their mysterious burial. The National Museum, New Delhi, held an exhibition of these sculptures. The railing pillars of the stupa contain carvings of young damsels supposed to be yakshis. This note discusses the significance of the yakshis and the yakshi cult against the historical context of Kushana art. The Sanghol sculptures stylistically, seem to be suggesting sufficient influence of Greek ideals as well as the natural ethnic beauty of the Ganges valley people. The theme of mother nature in relation to the cult of the yakshis, the concepts of samskara and samsara, and the aesthetic dimension of the Sanghol sculptures are further discussed in this note.

Selections from the Pan-Asian Collection
Pal, Pratapaditya
Vol. 37 No. 4, September 1984, pp. 78-79 [Advertisements. Photo plate after p. 79]

This portfolio illustrates a selection of sculptures from the well-known pan-Asian collection formed by the late Christian Humann. Many of the objects were a part of the exhibition entitled "The Sensuous Immortals" organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His abiding interest was in collecting sculpture principally, and bronzes in particular. Most of the collection was formed between 1960 and 1975. At the time of his premature death in 1981, he had amassed one of the most comprehensive collections from most Asian civilizations. Unfortunately, after his death the collection could not be kept together and was sold to dealers, collectors, and museums.