Enchanted by Lohans
Osvald Siren’s Journey into Chinese Art
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU
Download PDF (57.7 KB)
Title Page, Copyright Page
Download PDF (86.3 KB)
Download PDF (25.6 KB)
List of Figures
Download PDF (47.1 KB)
Download PDF (51.3 KB)
In this book, I am plunging into the life and career of Osvald Sirén (1879–1966) at the height of his activities and at a turning point in his work as an art historian. The choice may at first glance seem awkward and certainly will leave the reader pondering what came before and how it all ended. Sirén’s life began in Finland, then part of the Russian Empire, but his professional career as an art historian was ...
Download PDF (37.4 KB)
Since Sirén was such a prolific scholar and had a worldwide network of colleagues and friends, I have incurred many intellectual debts during the course of this research. Because Sirén traveled widely, tracing his journeys has taken me to various parts of the globe too. ...
1. In the Forbidden City
Download PDF (296.6 KB)
At the heart of the present city of Beijing stands the former Imperial Palace, the Forbidden City, where the Son of Heaven resided and ruled the world from its golden throne for centuries. His country was called the Middle Kingdom (Zhongguo On a hot early summer day in 1922, a 43-year-old man, rather short and thin and wearing glasses, entered the precincts of the palace compound, carrying with ...
2. The Beginnings of the Journey
Download PDF (60.8 KB)
Sirén received his academic education at the Imperial Alexander University of Finland (presently the University of Helsinki) in his hometown of Helsinki. This was the only academic institution in the country, which at the time was the autono-mous Grand Duchy of Finland (1809–1917) in the Russian Empire and Helsinki was its capital. In addition to the university, the city could boast an art museum: ...
3. Enchanted by Lohans in Boston
Download PDF (365.8 KB)
During my initial gathering of information on Sirén’s life, I recovered many tales and stories relating to the same event—the existence of multiple versions of the visit to the Forbidden City discussed in Chapter 1 was not an exception. My attempts to establish Sirén’s first contacts with Chinese art have been similarly confused by the differing stories people had heard; besides, Sirén’s own occasional reminiscences ...
4. The Golden Pavilion
Download PDF (322.8 KB)
Sirén vividly described his sojourn in Japan during his first visit to East Asia in Den Gyllene Paviljongen: Minnen och Studier från Japan (The Golden Pavilion: Souvenirs and Studies from Japan, 1919). The book has a timeless quality, maybe because it is a mixture of tourist guide and art history—a familiar combination also found in contemporary tourist literature. It is entitled after the famous Kyoto temple ...
5. The Expedition That Lasted Too Long
Download PDF (400.6 KB)
September 30, 1921: Sirén was on board the Taiyo Maru and was scribbling in his notebook in a raging storm. The ship had just passed the 180 degree longitude line, and he noted that stormy weather was rather common around there. The Pacific Ocean was not exactly as peaceful as its name suggests. Then he went on apprecia-I rather like the stormy days, because they make the people be less noisy; keep ...
6. The Fruits of the 1921–23 Expedition
Download PDF (318.6 KB)
When Sirén returned from East Asia in 1923, he spent some time in the United States on his way back to Europe. He gave two lectures on Chinese art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and met some of his old Boston acquaintances, such as Paul Sachs (1878–1965) of the Fogg Museum.1 The latter part of 1923 was mostly spent in London, but by early 1924 he seems to have made Paris his base. His decision to ...
7. To Go or Not to Go Back to Stockholm
Download PDF (245.4 KB)
While Sirén was in Paris and London preparing his publications or traveling elsewhere in Europe and North America, he was at the same time looking for a new position in a museum or a university. The first signs of this are found after he remarried in early October 1925. His wife Maria had moved to Point Loma to live with the children and had died in early 1925, so Sirén had been spending a ...
8. Language Lessons and Curio Dealers
Download PDF (377.8 KB)
In December 1928 Sirén departed for East Asia via his usual route: over the Atlantic, across North America, and over the Pacific; he went first to Japan, and after a while he continued to Korea and then to China. In Japan, it was the early years of the Shôwa period (1926–89): the 1920s had been an intense period of appreciation of Western culture, and of interest in its materialism, individualism, and liberalism. ...
9. Enhancing the Asian Collection in the Nationalmuseum
Download PDF (288.0 KB)
It cannot be denied that the old “Wagonslits” is cozy when it comes to hotels, unusually cozy, though somewhat worn out in certain respects (the locks work slowly and toilet flushes badly and so on), and service is friendly and courte-ous, though sometimes a little clumsy. A few minor improvements and rear-rangements have been done down in the lobby, but otherwise everything is ...
10. The Garden as a Refuge
Download PDF (294.1 KB)
In May 1938 Sirén wrote to Jean Buhot that his garden was “becoming more and more a pet child” and that he was “endeavoring to bring it into harmony with Eastern ideals.”1 He had plenty of material to draw from in designing a garden with ‘Eastern’ inspiration. He had enthusiastically photographed Chinese and Japanese gardens during his four voyages, so he did not need to rely solely on his ...
Download PDF (234.9 KB)
In the preceding chapters I have charted Sirén’s journey into Chinese art. Two points concerning his early career as an art historian should be revisited. The first is the role of Theosophy. One can detect many thoughts in Sirén’s writing which point in the direction of German Romanticism, but it is difficult to decipher how much of this comes directly from German Romantic writers and how much has ...
Appendix I: Biographies
Download PDF (243.9 KB)
Appendix II: Itineraries
Download PDF (57.1 KB)
Download PDF (321.4 KB)
Download PDF (248.0 KB)
Download PDF (58.2 KB)
Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 28 b/w illus.
Publication Year: 2013