June 16, 2013
Rediscovering the Chinese Textile Collection in the Freer Gallery of Art
Yiyou (Daisy) Wang, Freer Gallery of Art

Some pictures
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Charles L. Freer (1854-1919), the Detroit industrialist and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art, is well recognized for his role in building the gallery’s world-class collection of Chinese paintings, ceramics, ancient jades, and Buddhist sculptures. However, little is known about him as an avid collector of Chinese textiles. Between 1902 and 1919 Freer collected and later bequeathed to the Freer Gallery 180 Chinese pieces of many types and periods, including a Tang dynasty 8thcentury Chinese brocade he purchased for 45 dollars in Japan, and the exquisite silk tapestry depicting the phoenix in the garden scene purchased from China.

As the first quantitative case study of Chinese textile collecting in America between 1902 and 1919, this presentation looks at the complex factors that shaped Freer’s collection, including his taste and the market conditions. Freer’s personal story will be considered along with international relations and textile scholarship of his time. Dr. Wang’s research will be published March/April 2013 issue of Arts of Asia.

Daisy Yiyou Wang is the Chinese Art Specialist at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Wang has published extensively, and contributed to a number of innovative exhibitions, including Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan at the Smithsonian. Wang has received a Smithsonian Valuing World Cultures Award, a Smithsonian Post-Doctoral fellowship, and a Getty Museum Leadership Fellowship. Wang holds a Ph.D. in Art History from Ohio University.

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