The Buddha in this altarpiece can be identified as the Buddha Maitreya upon comparison with the larger dated and inscribed altarpiece that is also in the collection. In both, the Buddha is surrounded by an entourage of music-making apsaras, the angel-like beings that appear frequently in Buddhist art. Here, a pagoda-like structure bearing images of seated Buddhas can be found at the top. The shape of the chamber is similar to those found in Chinese reliquaries and may refer to the remains of a practitioner devoted to the Buddha Maitreya, one desirous of rebirth in the Tushita Heaven, a paradise inhabited by this Buddha. The slightly plumper face, squarer shoulders, and softer drapery seen here represent a transition between the court style associated with Luoyang and the fuller bodies and thinner drapery adopted in the second half of the sixth century, after the collapse of the Northern Wei dynasty.
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller , New York, (until 1938; sold to MMA)
Nara National Museum. "Nihon Bukkyō bijutsu no genryū," April 29, 1978–June 11, 1978.
New York. China Institute in America. "Treasures from the Metropolitan Museum," October 24, 1979–January 27, 1980.
Sydney. Art Gallery of New South Wales. "Buddha: Transcending Space and Time," November 10, 2001–February 24, 2002.
Nara National Museum. "Hōryū-ji: The Dawn of Buddhist Art," April 24, 2004–June 13, 2004.
New York. Asia Society. "A Passion for Asia: The Rockefeller Family Collects," February 23, 2006–September 3, 2006.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Bronze," September 15, 2012–December 9, 2012.
Seoul. National Museum of Korea. "Masterpieces of Early Buddhist Sculpture," September 24, 2015–November 15, 2015.