Aschwin Lippe was a research fellow and later curator in the Department of Far Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The collection includes his early research and writings on East Asian art, particularly Chinese paintings. It has substantial material on his involvement in selecting the paintings and writing the catalog for the 1961 Chinese Art Treasures Exhibition. He later shifted his research focus to medieval Indian sculpture. The collection includes journals kept during several years of field research in India as well as his extensive photo-documentation of Indian temples and religious sculpture.
Scope and Contents:
The collection contains limited biographic material. The material covering his career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art includes some memoranda and general items. During his time at the museum he frequently visited public and private art collections, keeping copious object notes. Material documenting his work on the 1961 Chinese Art Treasures exhibition includes a diary of his 1954 visit to Taipei and his notes on objects viewed at the Palace Museum storage facility in Taichung. Also included are his drafts and correspondence from 1960-1961 about proposed exhibit catalog descriptions for the Chinese paintings.
Lippe's correspondence consists mostly of letters with scholars and colleagues. In general, the correspondence includes a few letters each to a large number of individuals. He kept correspondence about major projects in the file with other materials relating to that project.
Materials on Lippe's research and publications include some items from his initial scholarly interest in Far Eastern art, particularly Chinese painting. This includes drafts and correspondence documenting his participation in the catalog for the Exhibition of Chinese Calligraphy and Paintings in the John M. Crawford Jr. collection. Most of the research collection concerns India and two major publications: "South Indian Architecture and Sculpture" in The Arts of India and his book Indian Medieval Sculpture. Of particular interest are his India field journals (1958-1977) that record visits to sites, travel notes, descriptions and photography. Lippe's wife Simone traveled with him and contributed to the field journals. Photography of temples and especially their sculpture was the focus of his field research. He made 8-by-10-inch black and white enlargements of sites and sculpture that he organized into study albums as needed for a particular article or project. The collection also includes a large number of 35 mm. color slides taken by Simone Lippe that record general views of sites, scenery, daily life and festivals.
The collection includes slides and photographs taken during trips elsewhere in Asia and not directly related to Lippe's own research. These are mostly scenic views and general "tourist" pictures. The architecture of Hindu-Buddhist temples and sculpture in countries such as Indonesia and Cambodia may have been of scholarly interest as reflections of ancient Indian cultural influence.
The Collection is organized into 5 series with subseries. A 6th series inventories items from other series but housed in an Outsize Box.
Series 1: Personal and Professional Life
Subseries 1.1: Biographic Material and Metropolitan Museum of Art Career
Subseries 1.2: Notes on Collections
Subseries 1.3: Chinese Art Treasures Exhibition, 1961-1962
Series 2: Correspondence
Series 3: East Asia Research and Publications
Subseries 3.1: Background Material and Manuscripts
Subseries 3.2: Crawford Collection Catalog
Series 4: India Research and Publications
Subseries 4.1: India Background Materials
Subseries 4.2: India Manuscripts and Publications
Subseries 4.3: India Fieldwork 1958-1977: Field Journals, Travel Notes and Itineraries
Series 5: Photography
Subseries 5.1: Albums, Lists, and Contact Prints
Subseries 5.2: India Photographs
Subseries 5.3: Non-India Photographs
Subseries: 5.4 India 35 mm. Color slides
Subseries 5.5: Non-India 35 mm. Color slides
Series 6: Miscellaneous, Outsize Box
Biographical / Historical:
Aschwin Lippe [Ernst Aschwin Prinz zur Lippe-Biesterfeld] was born June 13, 1914 in Jena, Germany and died March 14, 1988 in The Hague, The Netherlands. In 1951 he married Simone Arnoux, born May 9, 1915 in Paris and died November 21, 2001 in The Hague.
As a student in Germany, Lippe studied Chinese, East Asian art and archaeology, and the history of art. He received his Diploma of Chinese in 1933 from the Seminary for Oriental Languages in Berlin and his PhD in Sinology and Far Eastern Art and Archaeology in 1942 from Berlin University.
Lippe began his museum career in the Department of East Asian Art of the State Museum in Berlin. In 1949 he joined the staff of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as a Senior Research Fellow in Far Eastern Art. He became an Associate Curator in 1950, Research Curator in 1964, and Curator Emeritus in 1973.
Lippe was a member of the Selection and Catalog Committee for the Chinese Art Treasures Exhibition in 1961, the first major American exhibition of works from the National Palace Museum in Taipei. An expert on Chinese Painting, he visited Taipei in 1954 and was able to travel to Taichung to view paintings and other art objects still in storage.
In the 1960s his interests turned increasingly toward Indian medieval temple art and architecture, especially sculpture. Joined by his wife Simone, he made several research trips to India from 1958 to 1970 during which he took detailed photographs of Indian temples, documenting their sculpture. This research was the foundation for Lippe's "South Indian Architecture and Sculpture" section in The Arts of India (1981), and his major work Indian Medieval Sculpture (1978).
James Cahill Papers
John A. Pope Papers
Gift of Thilo von Watzdorf
Collection is open for research.
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