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Press release

Colors of the Universe:
Chinese Hardstone Carvings

June 16, 2012—March 8, 2015 (Extended)

Exhibition location: Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries for Chinese Decorative Arts, Gallery 221

A selection of some 75 exquisite hardstone carvings created during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) in China is on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Drawn entirely from the Museum’s collection, the objects in Colors of the Universe: Chinese Hardstone Carvings demonstrates diverse subjects and styles of the lapidary art of later China, illustrating the artists’ extraordinary imaginations and technical virtuosity.  Most of the objects are on public view at the Met for the first time. Carved in various shapes, such as figures, birds, fruits, and animals, the installation provides a full palette of the vibrant colors found in an extensive variety of hardstones, including not only jade, the most esteemed of East Asian gems, but also agate, malachite, turquoise, quartz, amber, coral, and lapis lazuli.   

Highlights of the installation include a clear and sparkling rock-crystal bottle in the shape of a bird―although the shape is derived from that of an ancient ritual vessel, the work implies the possible influence of European crystal art.  Another superb piece is a masterfully executed red-coral sculpture entitled Daoist Immortal and a Boy, depicting a “mother and child,” which will be juxtaposed in the installation with Lion with a Cub, carved out of bright blue lapis lazuli imported from Afghanistan.  

The exhibition is organized by Jason Sun, Curator in the Department of Asian Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The installation is featured on the museum’s website, as well as on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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February 9, 2015

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