Published: March 8, 2023

Dr. Fletcher Coleman, from the University of Texas, will speak on “Ink Rubbings and Early American Encounters with Chinese Sculpture” on Monday, April 3rd at 5pm in HUMN 135
Fletcher Coleman (PhD Harvard 2020) is a specialist on the religious arts and art historiography of China, whose research spans the medieval through early modern periods. His current book project examines Chinese Buddhist sculpture through the lens of antiquarian and conservation practices utilized by American scholars during the formation of East Asian art history as an academic discipline in the United States. Coleman’s work has been published in international journals such as Ars Orientalis, Orientations, and Diancang gumeishu 典藏古美術. 
“Ink Rubbings and Early American Encounters with Chinese Sculpture” 
When the Cleveland Museum of Art opened its doors to the public for the first time on June 6, 1916, a pair of remarkable ink rubbings of Buddhist sculpture dominated the display of Chinese art. Taken from the imperial procession reliefs of the Binyang Central Cave at the Longmen Grottoes, such rubbings came to play an outsized role in the field of East Asian art history in America at the turn of the 20th century. Despite the increasing presence of original artworks in museums and the expansion of photographic study collections, early Asian art experts in the U.S. continued to place a heavy emphasis on the pedagogical and aesthetic value of ink rubbings of pictorial images. This talk examines how the needs of this new class of Asian art professionals in the United States spurred innovations in display practices and theoretical approaches to ink rubbings of images. Far beyond the Cleveland inaugural exhibition, these individuals continued to promote rubbings through dedicated exhibitions into the mid-twentieth century.