The National Gallery of Canada’s small but fine collection of Asian Art includes sculpture, painting and decorative arts from the Indian subcontinent, Tibet and China. The majority of the works were donated by Canadian collectors.
A selection of exquisite eighth- to thirteenth- century Indian stone sculptures from the Max Tanenbaum collection are currently on display. Mainly architectural elements carved in deep relief, these works depict Hindu, Buddhist and Jain deities. Especially fine are the tenth-century Holy Family of Shiva and Parvati, as well as a Dancing Ganesha, dated around 1000 CE. Also on display is a fine seventeenth-century Indian ivory carving of an erotic scene, a gift of the Bumper Development corporation.
Max Tanenbaum’s donation to the National Gallery also included 80 bronze figurines from India and Tibet, dated between the seventh and eighteenth centuries. Outstanding among them is the fifteenth-century Tibetan gilt copper statuette of the protective Buddhist deity Rahula. The Tanenbaum collection also includes a large group of manuscript paintings and drawings from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, mainly of the Mughal and Rajput schools, as well as more than sixty seventeenth- to nineteenth- century Tibetan thangkas, hanging scroll paintings. These depict tantric deities as well as mandalas (cosmic diagrams used as aids to Buddhist meditation). Chinese works include a small collection of seventeenth- and eighteenth- century paintings donated to the Gallery by R.W. Finlayson, among others, as well as examples of jade carvings from the Qianlong period (1736-96) of the Qing Dynasty, given by Jeanne Taschereau Perry.