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A Nobility of Matter: Asian Art from the Bliss Collection

April 2, 2019–March 2020 | Drawing from the remaining Chinese artworks in the House Collection, this installation focuses on Song dynasty vessels and luxury domestic objects.

Writing to Mildred Barnes Bliss in 1912, her art advisor Royall Tyler expressed his admiration for Chinese ceramics of the Song dynasty, extolling their “greatest refinement and delicacy in shapes, and a nobility of matter in body and glaze.” Over the next three decades, the Blisses built an extensive collection of ancient Chinese art guided by Tyler’s tastes. Although most of that collection was later sold to fund the Byzantine collection endowment, certain pieces remain in the House Collection at Dumbarton Oaks. A Nobility of Matter encompasses two successive installations of those pieces. The first will focus on Song dynasty vessels while the second will explore a broader range of luxury domestic objects.