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 Chinese archeology and art from the Neolithic period to the Song dynasty (960-1279). However, some gaps remain. Thus the museum did not have any spectacular bronze from the Han period (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 made a point of donating an exceptional gilt bronze bear, perhaps a screen stand. The animal has an expressiveness, almost caricatural, which gives it a special presence.

In Chinese, the word "bear", xiong, is, with a change of tone, the namesake of the term "bravery" or "strength". This point, reinforced by the morphology of the animal, meant that at the time of the Han, particular powers were attributed to 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. Its sudden appearance in iconography would correspond to the reign of Emperor Wudi (r. 140-87 BC) and could be linked to this sovereign's interest in the quest for immortality. The bear theme is therefore frequently found in iconography at the time of the Han dynasty, even in the productions found in the Lelang commandery, today in North Korea. Bronze supports and weights are in the shape of a bear. The bear participates in the fauna which frolic on the representations of the islands of the immortals (vases of 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 made a point of contributing: 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, Ms. Lotus Mahé, Ms. Liliane Legault, Ms. 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 Ms. Vo Quang Yen, Ms. Chantal Gerez, Ms. Chantal Le Vert, Ms. Jean Pasquet, Miss Christiane Pinatel, Mr. and Mrs. Alain Hetier. May all receive the recognition of Conservation.


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