Guanyin by a Lotus Pond Ink and color on silk, mounted and framed. 108 x 63 1/4in (274 x 161cm)
Provenance: Christopher Buckner Asian Art Gallery, London, 2005 formerly in a private French collection
Published: Christopher Bruckner Asian Art Gallery Chinese Imperial Patronage Treasures From Temples and Palaces London, 2005. Cat. 13
Likely to date from the second half of the seventeenth century, this sublime depiction of Guanyin of the South Sea (Nanhai Guanyin) is nearly identical to a composition created in 1593 on the commission of Empress Dowager Li Cisheng, the mother of the Wanli Emperor (reigned 1573-1619) and a generous imperial patron of Buddhist imagery in the late Ming Dynasty. The earlier example--acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 1918--has been interpreted as the celebration of two miraculous events that occurred in 1586 and 1587 and as a conveyance of both an imperial and Buddhist message.
The current lot, over twice as large as the earlier Metropolitan example, depicts a bejeweled Guanyin leaning over an ornate balustrade above a blossoming lotus pond. The boy pilgrim Shancai stands on a lotus leaf in adoration below, and behind the principal figure a white parrot is perched on a magnificently contorted garden rock, as bamboo winds its way through the stone's perforations. The implications of reading the garden rock as a mountainous landscape--in this case Putuo, the home of Nanhai Guanyin--is further enforced by the surreal multicolor clouds that hover at the top of the composition and endow the scene with an otherworldly demeanor.
Although the same composition was also carved into stone and set up at Beijing's Sheng'an Monastery four years earlier in 1589, it is likely the artist of the current composition was working from the 1593 Metropolitan example due to the resemblance of the subtler details that are not evident from the stone carving or the rubbings. That said, the current lot differs from the 1593 example at several points. Shancai is somewhat larger; the treatment of the wood grain on the baluster appears more pronounced and naturalistic; and greater attention is paid to Guanyin's robe, not only in the floral collar, but in the depiction of the gauze, which not only exposes the jeweled arm of the goddess, but her hand that holds a rosary.
For a discussion on the Metropolitan example， see: Marsha Weidner, "Imperial Engagements with Buddhist Art and Architecture" in Cultural Intersections in Later Chinese Buddhism, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 2001, pp 128-129; and Marsha Weidner ed., Latter Days of the Law, Spencer Museum of Art, Kansas, 1994, cat. no 47.
無名氏 觀音大士像 設色絹本 鏡片 十七/十八世紀
來源：2005年購於倫敦Christopher Buckner Asian Art Gallery 前任法國私人收藏
出版： 倫敦Christopher Bruckner Asian Art, Chinese Imperial Patronage Treasures From Temples and Palaces， 2005年， 圖13號
關於大都會博物館館藏畫的更多資料， 見 Marsha Weidner, "Imperial Engagements with Buddhist Art and Architecture" in Cultural Intersections in Later Chinese Buddhism, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 2001, pp 128-129; and Marsha Weidner ed., Latter Days of the Law, Spencer Museum of Art, Kansas, 1994, cat. no 47.