Bronze cast, Japan, 18th to 19th century
“This Japanese Buddha sits in meditation with a mandorla – a form of halo – behind his head. The mandorla, symbolizing light and blessedness, is a symbol in eastern and western art. The Amida Buddha embodies the ideals of wisdom, compassion and enlightenment. This form of Buddhism reached Japan via Korea in the 6th century.”
20 December 2016
Chambers Street, Edinburgh
NT 25824 73343; 55.94736°N, 3.18928°W
National Museum of Scotland
A Surasundari or Heavenly Beauty
“This generously proportioned and bejewelled female figure comes from the temples of Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh. Khajuraho has the largest group of Hindu and Jain temples in India. Built by the Chandella dynasty between the 9th and 12th centuries, the temples are adorned with thousands of sculptures, many of then, as this one, erotic in tone.”
“Devotees of the Buddha Amida chant his name to pray for rebirth in the western paradise, the Pure Land. This faith developed in Japan in the 12th century and is one of the largest schools of Buddhism there today.
“This bronze statue shows Amida seated on a lotus pedestal in an attitude of meditation known as dhyana mudra, with the hands resting in the lap, palms facing upward and the tips of the thumbs touching the index fingers. On the halo behind him are the 25 guardians chosen to protect all true believers.
“Scottish entrepreneur, James Douglas Fletcher (1857-1927), acquired this sculpture in 1902, for his home, Rosehaugh, on the Black Isle. He refurbished Rosehaugh extensively with treasures from overseas.”
by Louis-Claude Vassé, Paris, 1763
“The fifth daughter of King Louis XV of France, Princess Marie-Louise-Thérèse-Victoire (1733-1799), was renowned for her beauty, as shown in this bust of her aged 30. Unmarried, she survived the French Revolution and travelled throughout Europe. She died in reduced circumstances in Trieste. Vassé was one of many commissioned to portray her during her life at the French Court.”
Caryatid (one of a pair of figures)
“These figures were designed by the architect William Playfair and made by Alexander Handyside Ritchie during the refurbishment of Floors Castle in the 1840s.
“Inspired by Greek sculpture, the figures were part of a large marble chimney piece. Playfair and Ritchie are known for their work on prominent buildings in Edinburgh. Playfair designed Surgeons’ Hall, Royal Scottish Academy, the National Monument and City Observatory on Calton Hill. Ritchie contributed work to the Scott Monument and the façade of the Royal College of Physicians.”
The Meissen Lion
Porcelain, by Johann Gottleib Kirchner, Meissen, Germany, c1732-35
“This is one of over 250 porcelain animals commissioned by Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, for his Japanese Palace in Dresden.
“A voracious collector of Oriental ceramics, Augustus employed Johann Friedrich Böttger to discover how to make true porcelain, and established the first European porcelain factory at Meissen, in 1710.
“The cracks show that the factory had great difficulty making large porcelain sculptures.”
by Merete Rasmussen. Stoneware, London, 2009.
“The clean curves, sparse decoration and minimalism of Scandinavian design inspired Grey Loop. Rasmussen’s abstract sculptural forms are hand built in stoneware, using a coiling technique she learned as a student at Designskolen Kolding, one of Denmark’s leading schools of design.
“Rasmussen likes to challenge the material and her own skills by constructing complicated fragile shapes, which develop into forms that are strong enough to be handled and positioned without support after firing.”
designed by Mario Botta
Chair, steel and polyurethane, made by Alias Grumello del Monte, Italy, 1982.
Insulators by a window
Grand Gallery glass roof