Over the last 10 days, we’ve highlighted a small number of works of art acquired this year. In reality, we could have spent an entire month celebrating 2014 additions to the collection.
We didn’t have time to mention important acquisitions like a chair made by the Byrdcliffe Colony; a print series by Flemish master engraver Aegidius Sadeler II; a photograph by Emmet Gowin; paintings by Andrew and Jamie Wyeth; and new works by Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock made for their 2013 exhibition here. In other words, 2014 shaped up to be a very good year for the Saint Louis Art Museum’s collection.
In fact, we learned in November that it would be an exceptional year.
That’s when the Art Museum formally accepted a transformative bequest by the late C.C. Johnson Spink and Edith “Edie” Spink of 225 works of art, including more than 200 works of Asian art that range from Chinese ceramics of the Neolithic period to works from Meiji-era Japan.
The Spinks’ Asian art collection was developed with the intent of filling major gaps in the Art Museum’s collection and with a specific goal of allowing the museum to present a complete history of Chinese ceramics from prehistoric times to the end of the imperial system.
“This extraordinary gift is the result of three decades of strategic collecting by Johnson and Edie, who were guided by a shared desire to expand and elevate the Museum’s collection,” Brent R. Benjamin, director of the Saint Louis Art Museum, said when the gift was announced. “I am grateful for their generosity, and all of us at the museum are excited to include their legacy as an essential part of our visitors’ experience.”
The Spink Asian Art Collection primarily comprises works by Chinese artists, although the gift also includes six important Japanese works. The collection includes 83 ceramics, eight works in glass, 52 jades and hardstones, 22 works made from lacquer and other organic materials, and 50 examples of metalwork. Highlights include:
- Rectangular Food Vessel (fang ding) with Flattened Feet in the Form of Kui-Dragons, a Shang dynasty (11th century BC) bronze bowl with two horseshoe handles and supported by four feet in the shape of long-tailed birds.
- Ritual Object in the Form of a Prismatic Cylinder (cong), a rectangular shaped, dark green jade cylinder from the Liangzhu culture and dating to 3000–2000 BC. The object depicts 10 faces on each corner.
- Standing Figure of a Horse Groom, an earthenware figure from the Northern Wei dynasty (early 6th century).
- Stem Bowl with Design of Flowering Branches of Tree Peony, Pomegranate, Chrysanthemum, and Camellia, a large Jingdezhen ware stem bowl dating from the Xuande period of the Ming dynasty (early 15th century).
- Bowl with Design of the Three Abundances, Floral Sprays, and Auspicious Clouds, a large carved pale blue and celadon-glazed bowl from the Yongzheng period of the Qing dynasty (early 18th century).
- Dish with Design of Gardenia Sprays, a shallow, circular porcelain plate from the Yongzheng period of the Qing dynasty (early 18th century) featuring floral designs in white on a ground of blue underglaze.