An outstanding selection of Chinese art gifted to The Met by Florence and Herbert Irving is the focus of this exhibition. Beginning in the early 1970s, the Irvings built one of the most comprehensive and superb collections of Chinese art in the world. For more than three decades, the couple helped The Met acquire important artworks and provided support for exhibitions, and their passion was a factor in building the current exhibition galleries dedicated to Chinese decorative arts. Their generous gifts of more than five hundred exceptional objects fundamentally transformed the holdings of Chinese art at The Met.
The approximately 120 works on display (in each rotation) cover almost all major categories of Chinese art, with a focus on three-dimensional objects, including lacquer, ceramic, metal work, jade, bamboo, and stone carvings. Created by both famous and unknown masters, these extraordinary works represent the artistic sophistication and technical virtuosity of Chinese decorative arts from the tenth through the early twentieth century. In addition to the Irvings’ well-known assemblage of lacquer ware, the exhibition also showcases their recent gifts of a group of jade and bamboo works from the eighteenth-century imperial workshop that have never before been on display. This presentation reunites important private loans formerly in the Irvings’ collection with comparative pieces from The Met collection.