2011: Bear in gilded bronze. China. Han era
Exceptional donation from the Society of Friends of the Cernuschi Museum
The Cernuschi Museum presents a very complete panorama of archeology and Chinese art from the Neolithic period to the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Nevertheless, some gaps remain. Thus the museum possessed no spectacular bronze from the time of the Han (206 BC - 220 AD). On the occasion of the retirement of Gilles Béguin, director of the Cernuschi Museum, the Society of Friends of the Cernuschi Museum wanted to donate an exceptional golden bronze bear, perhaps a screen shot. The animal has an expressiveness, almost caricatural that gives it a special presence.
In Chinese, the word "bear", xiong, is, with a change of tone, the homonym of the term "bravery" or "strength". This point, reinforced by the morphology of the animal, made that at the time of the Han, one attributed particular powers to the bears. Chiyou, god of war, has a bear's head. In the imperial parks, from the first emperor (221-210 BC), living bears animated these "supreme forests" (Shanglin), conceived as microcosms. The bear is also associated with immortality. His sudden appearance in iconography would correspond to the reign of Emperor Wudi (140-87 BC) and could be related to his interest in the quest for immortality. The theme of the bear is therefore frequently found in iconography during the Han dynasty, even in the productions found in the commandery of Lelang, now in North Korea. Bronze supports and weights are bear shaped. The bear participates in the fauna which is frolicking on the representations of the islands of the immortals (vases of the type lei or perfume burner) and on the reliefs of the tombs, for example in the famous necropolis of the Wu family in Shandong.
It is worth mentioning all those who contributed to this purchase. In the first place, the Antoni Laurent Foundation, Close Brothers, Cabinet Derains, Gharavi and Lazareff, Comgest SA, Marceau Finance, Montpensier Finance, Sofinnova Partners and Paul Lippens.
In addition, many members of the association wanted to make their contribution: Mr. Pierre Jourdan-Barry, Mr. Olivier Gérard, Mr. Robert Lavayssière, Fimex SA, Ms. Régine Brawerman, Ms. Marie-Agnès Dufour, Ms. Brigitte Gagneraud , Mr. Michel Jacob, Mrs. Lotus Mahé, Mrs. Liliane Legault, Mrs. Annick Hamet, Mr. Gilles Béguin, Ms. Jacqueline Berthelot-Blanchet, Ms. Micheline Fried, Ms. Hélène Lassalle, Ms. Isabelle Kahn-Sriber, Mr. Jean-Martin Noailles, Ms. Marie-Noëlle Delorme, Ms. Eliane Lepke, Ms. Sophie Aurand, Ms. Catherine Hollocou, Ms. Christiane Lagumina, Mr. François Maunoury, Mr. Clément Soubrier, Mr. and Mrs. Vo Quang Yen, Ms. Chantal Gerez, Ms. Chantal Le Vert, Ms. Jean Pasquet, Miss Christiane Pinatel, Mr. and Mrs. Alain Hetier. May everyone receive the recognition of the Conservation.