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The collection of Asian art features prints, paintings, ceramics, and sculpture from the regions of East Asia, continental Southeast Asia, South Asia, Iran, and the Near East.
About Asian Art
With approximately 6,500 objects, the Yale University Art Gallery’s Department of Asian art encompasses the regions of East Asia (China, Korea, and Japan), continental Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Islamic-era Near East. The Chinese and Japanese collections were built initially through the gifts and bequest of Mrs. William H. Moore between 1937 and 1960. The greatest strengths of the Chinese holdings are ceramics and paintings, including a group of vessels from the Changsha region of Hunan Province, from around 500 B.C.E. to 1000 C.E., assembled for the most part by John Hadley Cox, B.A. 1935. Chinese paintings range from the Tang dynasty (618–907 C.E.) through the 20th century, with particular strengths in the 17th century and in the modern and contemporary period.
The Japanese collection has important concentrations in the arts of the Edo period (1615–1868). Approximately 1,200 prints, the majority of which are ukiyo-e prints of the 18th and 19th centuries, demonstrate the breadth of this medium, and recent additions have included a group of 20th-century prints. Several important screens and hanging scrolls of the 14th through 18th century highlight the department’s holdings of Japanese painting and calligraphy, while Japanese textiles are represented by fragments from the Shōsōin repository in Nara, Noh robes, kimonos, and a collection of Buddhist priests’ robes. Japanese ceramics, a growing area of the collection, span from the Neolithic period to the presend day, with important recent additions of contemporary ceramic sculpture.
The South Asian and Islamic collections, again founded by the gifts of Mrs. Moore, are represented by an excellent group of textiles, ceramics, miniature paintings, and manuscript pages. Gifts of over 80 Persian and Indian miniature paintings, and others of Indian sculpture, have greatly augmented the holdings of Iranian and Indian art.
The permanent-collection galleries include a new area for Japanese textiles, as well as a tokonoma-like space, meant to evoke an alcove that is used to display art and decorative objects in a Japanese interior. In addition, the design enables Japanese screens to be displayed side-by-side for the first time at the Gallery. Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai ceramics, as well as Chinese and Indian sculpture, have also been reinstalled. Highlights of the arts of Islam are displayed in a teaching gallery devoted to Islamic art.
Please note: The Department of Asian Art at the Yale University Art Gallery uses the era designations C.E.(“of the common era”) and B.C.E.(“before the common era”) corresponding to A.D.(anno Domini, “in the year of the Lord”) and B.C.(“before Christ”).
Note from the Curator
To protect the Gallery’s works on silk and paper, these delicate objects are only displayed for a few months at a time. As a result, the objects in the Ruth and Bruce Dayton Gallery are rotated at least three times a year. Installations are often thematic and sometimes are designed to complement Yale courses. The fall rotation of Chinese works on paper introduces calligraphy—the Chinese art of writing—and features individual scrolls transcribing famous and not-so-famous poems, as well as calligraphy integrated with painting. A highlight is a Buddhist sutra—a recent gift of H. Christopher Luce, B.A. 1972—written in standard script around the year 600 C.E. It is the earliest work of calligraphy in the Gallery’s Asian art collection.
The rotation of Japanese paintings centers on the eighteenth-century painter and calligrapher Ike Taiga and his wife, Gyokuran. The works on display include loans from the collection of H. Christopher Luce that show Taiga’s range as a painter of figures, bamboo, and landscapes and Gyokuran’s as a landscape painter. Taiga, who climbed Mount Fuji three times, often portrayed the famous mountain, and one of his depictions of Mount Fuji is included in the display. In the nineteenth century, Mount Fuji became a favorite subject of the printmakers Hokusai and Hiroshige, and their work is represented in this installation by various views of Mount Fuji. The Indian miniatures on display, many based on the loves of Krishna, all come from the states located in the Punjab Hills.
David Ake Sensabaugh
The Ruth and Bruce Dayton Curator of Asian Art
Meet the Curators
David Ake Sensabaugh
David Ake Sensabaugh, the Ruth and Bruce Dayton Curator of Asian Art and head of the Department of Asian Art, received his master’s and doctoral degrees in Chinese and Japanese art and archaeology from Princeton University and his bachelor’s degree in history from Stanford University. His research interests are in Chinese painting of the 14th and 15th centuries, Chinese pictorial art of the Han and Southern and Northern dynasties, and Chinese gardens. His most recent essays include “Fashioning Identities in Yuan-Dynasty Painting: Images of the Men of Culture” (2009), in Ars Orientalis, and “The Lion Grove in Space and Time,” published in Bridges to Heaven: Essays on East Asian Art in Honor of Professor Wen C. Fong (2011).Download CV
Sadako Ohki, the Japan Foundation Associate Curator of Japanese Art, received her master’s and doctoral degrees in History of Art from the University of Michigan. Her doctoral thesis was on Ike Taiga’s calligraphy, reflecting a lifelong interest in calligraphy and ink art. In 2007 she published an essay titled “Collage of Painting, Calligraphy, and Poetry: A Study of Taiga’s Ink Bamboo with Kanshi Verse” in an exhibition catalogue for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Her exhibition Tea Culture of Japan: “Chanoyu” Past and Present, on view in the spring of 2009 and accompanied by a catalogue, highlighted the importance of Japanese tea culture and examined the ways in which it has evolved over the centuries.Download CV
The Edo Culture in Japanese Prints. With an introduction by George J. Lee. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972.
Lee, George J. Selected Far Eastern Art in the Yale University Art Gallery. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1970.
Neill, Mary Gardner. The Communion of Scholars: Chinese Art at Yale. New York: China Institute in America, 1982.
Ohki, Sadako. Tea Culture of Japan, exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2009.
Ohki, Sadako. Twentieth-Century Japanese Ceramics at the Yale University Art Gallery: The Collections of Molly and Walter Bareiss. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001.
Ohki, Sadako, ed. Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin: Japanese Art at Yale (2007).
Sensabaugh, David Ake. The Scholar as Collector: Chinese Art at Yale. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 2004.
Staples, Loretta N. A Sense of Pattern: Textile Masterworks from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1981.