Friday, 31 July 2015

Charles Freer at Longmen

Above: detail, Chinese workers at Longmen; Yütai (act. early 20th century); November 12, 1910; Silver gelatin photographic print; Charles L. Freer Papers; Freer|Sackler Archives FSA A.1 12.5.GN.088

Freer at Longmen

In 1910, Charles Lang Freer, founder of the Freer Gallery of Art, made his final journey to China. He usually had stayed in urban centers, where he could meet with dealers and fellow collectors. Yet he was increasingly drawn to China’s interior, where he could directly encounter its ancient capitals and cultural centers, thereby deepening his insight into and emotional connection with these works. 
On this trip, Freer’s goal was to visit the Buddhist cave temple complex at Longmen Gorge in Henan province. One of China’s great cultural monuments, Longmen has more than a thousand man-made caves, many containing masterpieces of stone sculpture dating from the fifth to ninth century. The site is only five miles from the provincial capital of Luoyang, but in 1910, it was remote and largely abandoned; bandits had become a concern. Chinese officials insisted that an armed guard accompany Freer. When he set out from Luoyang, his party had grown to more than twenty people, including porters, a cook, a photographer, and six soldiers.
Over the next two weeks, Freer and his photographer, Yütai, surveyed the caves with delight and awe. Many of the more than 100 large-format photographs produced on this trip—along with dozens of relief rubbings—are the best in situ visual documents of sculptures that were looted over the following decades. Later in his life, Freer frequently recounted the profound impact of his time spent with some of the finest works of early Chinese Buddhist art.

This photo and article is from the Freer I Sackler site and this photo made part of an exhibition, named :

Looking at Asia Through the Traveler’s Eye

For a few  good links: 500 years

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