Theodore Pitcairn refers directly to the present sculpture in a letter written to his brother Raymond in 1922. He begins with the comment, "I spent nearly the whole of Thursday with Mr. Yamanaka and managed to spend over $21,000" He then describes his purchases and concludes rather boldly, "I believe in the matter of sculpture, I have a finer Chinese collection although smaller than any Museum in America." He writes of the present sculpture, "While the wooden figure is much earlier and more primitive than the famous Boston wood figure and is not like it decked in brilliant colors, I am sure that you will feel that it belongs to a higher plane of art and will like it better. I was told that the Boston Museum paid $50,000 for it. I feel quite sure I would not exchange." The Boston Museum of Fine Art's superb wood, polychrome and gilt sculpture of Guanyin, dated to the Jin Dynasty, was acquired for exactly that amount in 1920 from Yamanaka and is illustrated in Jan Fontein and Pratapaditya Pal, Museum of Fine Arts Boston Oriental Art, Greenwich, Connecticut, 1969, no. 64.
A related wood and gesso carving of a monk of similar size was sold in these room 31st March 2005, lot 96 and a smaller example of a seated figure was also sold in these room 22nd March 2011, lot 268. A group of seventeen arhat of smaller size and less refined quality is illustrated in The Splendour of Buddhist Statuaries, Chinese Buddhist Wooden Sculpture from Sung to Yuan Dynasties, National Museum of History, Taipei 1997, pp. 64-99.
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