Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Chinese collection at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is justly famous for its masterpieces, which represent almost every medium and period of Chinese artistic production. The full scope of the collection, comprising approximately 8,000 objects, is not as widely recognized. It includes 600 paintings, particularly masterworks from the Song period (960–1279), well-known literati paintings by Ming and Qing artists, such as Zhou Chen, Shen Zhou, Wen Zhengming, Qiu Ying, Dong Qichang, Shitao, and Gong Xian, and interesting works by lesser-known professional painters. The Buddhist stone sculpture in the collection ranges in date from the late fifth to the eighth century and includes pieces from major Buddhist cave temples (Yungang, Longmen, Xiangtangshan, and Tianlongshan). The Procession of the Empress as Donor relief from Longmen is widely celebrated. Later Buddhist sculpture includes the Guanyin of the Southern Sea, a large polychrome standing bodhisattva that yielded a dated document, and other carved wood figures of Yuan and later date. On view are gilt bronze figures ranging from the fifth to the eleventh century, including two fine examples from the Liao period. The museum also houses an interesting study collection of early gilt bronzes from Lawrence Sickman’s personal collection. A unique piece is a carved wood traveling shrine that may possibly be from Central Asia. A number of Buddhist murals dating from the tenth to the fourteenth century (including the Assembly of Tejaprabha from Guangshengsi), as well as fifth- and sixth-century fragments from Kizil, are also worthy of study. Ming and Qing furniture includes a famous canopy bed with alcove and other huanghuali furniture.