Annual Percival David Foundation Lecture
Duplicates and copies in Chinese sculpture

Monday 8 May 2017,
BP Lecture Theatre
Free, booking essential

Phone +44 (0)20 7323 8181
Ticket Desk in Great Court

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The important role of duplication in the history of Chinese art is well known. Ancient bronze vessels and ceramics were produced in sets, and many were later copied.

Calligraphy and painting were copied to learn from ancient masters and preserve original works of art. Yet, in the study of Chinese sculpture, there is little discussion of duplication. The history of Chinese sculpture seems to consist of a series of singular, unique objects. There are period styles, regional similarities, and sets of images, of course, but few duplicates. If two or more works are identical, we are quick to dismiss one or more to be a modern forgery. Serial images and duplicates were undoubtedly produced in ancient times. Pious replications of Buddhist images were made in archaic styles. New works were provided with ancient inscriptions. Some such works were modern forgeries meant to deceive. But copies and duplicates were part of image making from ancient times to the present.

In this lecture, Stanley Abe, Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies at Duke University, will discuss examples of duplicate sculptural images as original production, as pious copies or replacements, and as modern forgeries. All are possible and, while difficult to discern, necessary to understand as part of the history of Chinese sculpture.

Followed by a drinks reception.

Supported by the Trustees of the Sir Percival David Foundation.

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Porcelain figure of a Buddha. Dehua, Fujian Province, China, 17th century.