“Patronage and Power: Selections from the Asia Society Museum Collection” Exhibition

Asia Society and Museum

poster for “Patronage and Power: Selections from the Asia Society Museum Collection” Exhibition

This event has ended.

Throughout time and across cultures people from a wide range of social statuses and religious backgrounds have commissioned or donated funds so that works of beauty and religious significance could be created. Wealth and power have often made it possible for emperors, kings, and ruling classes to fund the grandest projects and commission objects created out of expensive and highly refined materials.

In Asia rulers and wealthy patrons supported the creation of Hindu and Buddhist temples as well as the production of impressive icons for them. These acts were demonstrations of their power in this life, but just as important—and perhaps more so—patrons carried them out with the expectation that they would be rewarded in the next life. In China, the sumptuous tomb sculpture created for the underground palaces of the deceased further demonstrate that artistic creations often reveal a desire by those with power to extend their influence beyond this life. Emperors also filled their palaces with objects that testified to their political legitimacy and supremacy. In the case of the Chinese Ming and Qing dynasty rulers porcelains became testaments to their extensive bureaucratic control and personal taste.

Although similar kinds of objects made of less refined materials were available to those with fewer means, the quality of craftsmanship and often the scale of these works reveal the elite status of their patrons. While most of the pieces on view are luxury items for private or court use, many of the large-scale religious works ultimately found a much wider audience composed of the faithful from a variety of classes who went to temple and monastery sites and participated in religious processions. This exhibition explores the impact of patronage—whether court or religious—on the production of select pieces from Asia Society’s renowned permanent collection.

Adriana Proser
John H. Foster Senior Curator of Traditional Asian Art



from February 26, 2013 to August 04, 2013

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