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Prince Shōtoku: The Secrets Within

Photograph and X-ray images of Prince Shōtoku at Age Two, Japanese, Kamakura period, datable to about 1292. Japanese cypress; assembled woodblock construction with polychromy and rock-crystal inlaid eyes. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Promised gift of Walter C. Sedgwick in memory of Ellery Sedgwick Sr. and Ellery Sedgwick Jr., 99.1979.1. X-ray image courtesy of the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies.


Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA

This event was recorded. Please view the lecture here.

In 1930, Ellery Sedgwick (1872–1960), owner and editor of The Atlantic Monthly, traveled from Boston to Japan, where he encountered an extraordinary 13th-century sculpture of Prince Shōtoku at Age Two. Sedgwick ultimately acquired the sculpture of Prince Shōtoku, who is regarded as the founder of Buddhism in Japan. When the sculpture arrived in the United States in 1937, a visiting Japanese conservator discovered that it contained an extraordinary cache of more than 70 dedicatory objects. It has taken over 80 years to begin to unlock the complex secrets of this princely time capsule, thanks to advances in technology and scholarship.

Presented in conjunction with Prince Shōtoku: The Secrets Within (May 25–August 11, 2019), this lecture by exhibition curator Rachel Saunders, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Associate Curator of Asian Art, and Angela Chang, assistant director of the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, will reveal the latest findings in a collaborative effort to interpret this unique ensemble from both inside out, and outside in.

The lecture will take place in Menschel Hall, Lower Level. Please enter the museums via the entrance on Broadway. Doors will open at 3:30pm.

Free admission, but seating is limited. Tickets will be distributed beginning at 3:30pm at the Broadway entrance. One ticket per person.

After the lecture, guests are invited to visit the exhibition on Level 3 until 6pm.

Complimentary parking available in the Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street, Cambridge.

Support for this program is provided by the Robert and Margaret Rothschild Lecture Fund. In addition, support for the exhibition was provided by Harvard University’s Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and the Harvard Art Museums’ Leopold (Harvard M.B.A. ’64) and Jane Swergold Asian Art Exhibitions and Publications Fund, Robert H. Ellsworth Bequest, and José Soriano Fund.