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The Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery have announced that Patricia Buckley Ebrey, a leading scholar of Chinese civilization, will receive the 2010 Shimada Prize for her book Accumulating Culture: The Collections of Emperor Huizong (University of Washington Press, 2008).
The Shimada Prize is awarded for distinguished scholarship in the history of East Asian art every two years by the Freer and Sackler and The Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies in Kyoto, Japan. It was established in 1992 to honor professor Shimada Shujiro, who, as a distinguished teacher and researcher in Kyoto and at Princeton University, received international recognition for his contributions to the field of Chinese and Japanese painting and calligraphy. Ebrey will receive the prize, which includes a cash award of $10,000, March 28 at 5 p.m. in the Freer’s Meyer Auditorium. Following the award ceremony, Ebrey will speak on the topic of “Emperor Huizong—Collector, Painter, Poet, and Daoist.” The event is open to the public.
A professor of history at the University of Washington, Ebrey is the author of numerous books and articles, including The Cambridge Illustrated History of China and The Inner Quarters: Marriage and the Lives of Chinese Women in the Sung Period. Ebrey’s book Accumulating Culture focuses on the profoundly influential cultural practices of the Chinese Emperor Huizong (1082-1135). In China, starting in the late sixth-century CE, the royal courts and the educated elite collected works of art, particularly scrolls of calligraphy and paintings done by known artists. By the time of Huizong, both scholars and the imperial court were cataloging their collections and collecting ancient bronzes and rubbings of ancient inscriptions. The surviving catalogs of Huizong’s painting, calligraphy and antiquities collections list more than 9,000 items, and the tiny fraction of the listed items that survive today are among the masterpieces of early Chinese art.
“This year’s Shimada Prize honors a book that makes an extraordinary contribution to our understanding of Chinese art and cultural history,” said Robert E. Harrist Jr., the Jane and Leopold Swergold Professor of Chinese Art History at Columbia University and a member of the Shimada Prize Selection Committee. “Based on exacting and exhaustive sinological research, Ebrey’s study of Emperor Huizong’s collections illuminates the essential bond between the aesthetic and the political in imperial China. Accumulating Culture offers an important new interpretation of Huizong’s political and aesthetic agendas.”
Ebrey received her doctorate from Columbia University in 1975, where she studied with Hans Bielenstein, David Johnson and William Theodore De Bary. Among the honors she has received are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation. This year she holds the Humboldt Foundation’s Research Award, given to outstanding scholars at the peak of their careers.
History of the Shimada Prize
In 1992 the Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies of Kyoto, Japan, joined with the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery to create an award honoring the distinguished Japanese art historian Shimada Shujiro (1907-94). The award is provided under the auspices of the Harry G.C. Packard Collections Charitable Trust. Both sponsoring entities were intent on honoring Shimada’s name for his seminal scholarship in the areas of Chinese and Japanese painting and for his profoundly influential role as an internationalist: from 1962 until 1977 he resided in the United States, occupied mainly with a teaching position at Princeton University.
Never before or since has a Japanese scholar of his stature elected to spend prime years of a career serving abroad. As a consequence, he significantly enriched the scholarship of a generation of Western students who went on to hold major posts in academia and in the museum world.
Ebrey is the ninth recipient of the Shimada prize. Information on past recipients can be found at www.asia.si.edu/visitor/shimadaPrize.htm.
For more information about the Freer and Sackler galleries and their exhibitions, programs and other events, the public is welcome to visit www.asia.si.edu. For general Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000 or TTY (202) 633-5285.
The Freer Gallery of Art, located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W., and the adjacent Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located at 1050 Independence Avenue S.W., are on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day, except Dec. 25, and admission is free. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines.
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