Museum  March 1, 2018  Megan D Robinson

Ancient Chinese Bronzes offer a window to the past at the Art Institute of Chicago

Courtesy the Shanghai Museum

Wine Bucket (Xiao Chen Xi you), late Shang dynasty (13th–11th century BC).

Currently at the Art Institute of Chicago, Mirroring China’s Past: Emperors and Their Bronzes, presents exquisitely ornamented Chinese bronzes from the second and first millennia BC. Unlike similar Greek and Roman bronze sculptures, these Chinese Bronze Age objects (about 2000–221 BC) were created primarily for ritual use. Starting with the Song Dynasty (960–1279), Emperors collected these bronzes as symbols of their right to rule.

Courtesy the Palace Museum, Beijing

Lobed Tripod Cauldron (Shi Yin li), Mid-Western Zhou dynasty, 927–850 BC. China.

Mirroring China’s Past showcases approximately 180 works from the Art Institute of Chicago, the Palace Museum in Beijing, the Shanghai Museum, and museums and private collections across the United States. The exhibition explores how these objects influenced Chinese politics, philosophy and history. Ancient bronzes still inspire and inform Chinese culture, as evinced by contemporary art included in the exhibition.

Courtesy the Art Institute of Chicago, Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection.

Bell (nao), Western Zhou dynasty (1046–771 BC). China, probably Hunan province.

The exhibition runs until May 13, 2018. For more information, visit http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/mirroring-china-s-past-emperors-and-their-bronzes

About the Author

Megan D Robinson

Megan D Robinson writes for Art & Object and the Iowa Source.