Head of a Buddha

Historical period(s)
Ayutthaya period, ca. 1700
Bronze with glass and mother-of-pearl
H x W x D: 44.3 x 28 x 24.9 cm (17 7/16 x 11 x 9 13/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Sculpture

Figure: Buddha (fragment)

Ayutthaya period (1351 - 1767), Buddha, Buddhism, Thailand, ushnisha

Unnamed Siamese official [1]

To 1909
Mr. Gadelius, to 1909 [2]

From 1909 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased at sale, Collection of Siamese and Cambodian Antiquities, Curios and Relics, American Art Association, New York April 6, 1909 [3]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]


[1] According to the object record for F1909.48, Curatorial Remark 5, H. E. Buckman, 1964, the Envelope File contained the following note by C. L. Freer, dated February 26, 1918: "Bronze head of Buddha, life sized. Brought to New York City by Mr. Gadelius during the winter of 1908-1909, and sold along with other Siamese and Cambodian objects, at the American Art Galleries, on April 6, 1909. Mr. Gadelius assured me that this head came from the ruins of Angkor Wat, Cambodia; and this statement appears in the catalogue of the sale. I attended the sale personally and purchased at the same time three other heads, S.I. 68 (F1909.49), 69 (F1909.50) and 70 (F1909.51)." According to Curatorial Remark 6, Louise Cort, February 18, 2002, "The catalogue of the sale of Siamese and Cambodian objects (6 April 1909) noted that they had been accumulated over a period of thirty-five years by a Siamese official."

[2] See note 1.

[3] See note 1. See also, Original Bronze List, S.I. 68, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[4] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Mr. Gadelius (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


In 1909, Charles Lang Freer purchased this and three other bronze heads of the Buddha from the American Art Galleries in New York City (F1909.48-51). Remarkably different in style, the heads reveal the range of artistic possibilities within the strictures of a single iconographic form. This Buddha's face is attentive and engaged, the eyes with delineated pupils and high arched brows. Typical of the Ayyuthaya period (14th--15th century), the shape of the face is a smooth oval, with tight, pronounced curls across the head and the ushnisha. A jade-green patina enhances the full surface. Thailand's Buddhist art is remarkable for the way the image of the Buddha transforms subtly across centuries of casting in bronze.

Collection Area(s)
Southeast Asian Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
F|S Southeast Asia
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.