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Encountering Chinese Sculpture in America: The Early Pedagogy and Exhibition of Monumental Ink Rubbings from Longmen

On 6 June 1916, The Cleveland Museum of Art opened its doors to the public for the first time. Among the many artworks in the inaugural exhibition, a pair of remarkable ink rubbings of Buddhist sculpture dominated the main display of Chinese art in Gallery XIII (Fig. 1). Backed onto canvas and mounted on stretchers, the rubbings are truly monumental in scale at a combined length of nearly eight metres (Figs 2 and 3). Taken from the soon-to-be world-famous imperial procession reliefs of the Binyang Central Cave at the Longmen Grottoes in China’s Henan province, such rubbings played an outsized role in the burgeoning field of East Asian art history in the United States.

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January/February 2020
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