Chinese Art

Chinese Art - A Thousand Masterpieces from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections
A Thousand Masterpieces from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections


“A bit of history appears indicated. I started to work as Senior Research Fellow and Consultant to the Department of Far Eastern Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in January 1972. Among the tasks assigned was to organize an exhibition, The Arts of Ancient China, to take place in 1973, selecting all the objects and determining the sequence of their presentation. No catalogue was to accompany the exhibition. Ultimately, I selected approximately four-hundred objects, gathering numerous loans from private collectors to join with the Museum’s own holdings. Dr. Arthur M. Sackler, a major benefactor of the museum, was one of the private collectors who lent a substantial number of objects to the exhibition… The Arts of Ancient China exhibition opened in the winter of 1973… My name was mentioned only in the context of “lender” to the exhibition.

“As I completed preparations for The Arts of Ancient China exhibition, I received a letter from the chief consultant advising me that, having concluded my work on this exhibition, I now was to produce a catalogue for the forthcoming exhibition of Dr. Sackler’s Chinese art collection. Again, the choice of objects was mine. In December 1973, the stipulated date, I handed in my manuscript for the proposed exhibition. Negotiations continued, however, between Dr. Sackler and the chief consultant causing an ever larger number of objects to be included. I worked on the catalogue until 1976.

“In 1974 Dr. Sackler, who had funded other galleries in the museum and given many magnanimous gifts, agreed to provide funds to enable the museum to build the Sackler Wing to house a reconstruction of a first century B.C. Egyptian temple from Dendur, and a special exhibition hall. The first exhibition scheduled for the special exhibition hall was of Egyptian antiquities from the tomb of Tutankhamen; the second was the proposed exhibition Masterpieces of Chinese Art from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections.

“Yet even as Dr. Sackler was making possible the Sackler Wing, the staff at the museum repeatedly cancelled and rescheduled the Sackler exhibition. The department’s chief consultant proposed that it be held five years after the opening of the Wing, when he thought Dr. Sackler would succumb to pressure to give all the objects in the exhibition to the museum…

“It is valid to ask why this catalogue has finally seen print, without the exhibition it was intended to accompany. In 1982 Dr. Sackler agreed to provide a gift of one-thousand masterpieces of Chinese and other Eastern art to establish a museum in his name on the Mall in Washington, D.C., under the aegis of the Smithsonian Institution. Many of the objects I selected for the Sackler Masterpieces exhibition were chosen for the nation…”

From the Introduction by Paul Singer

Paul Singer, M.D.

Edited by
Lois Katz, Former Curator of the Arthur M. Sackler Collections

Assistant editors
Lore Holmes, John McLaren & Susan Gilgore

Review Editor
Dr. Thomas Lawton

Design Coordinator
Lois Katz

Design and Production Coordinator
Miguel Angel Benavides

Otto Nelson

Published by
AMS Foundation for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities


gloss paper
572 pages
size: 11×14 inches
Price: N/A

To purchase, please contact the AMS Foundation for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities