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The Kuring-Vest Bequest for the Acquisition of Asian art at the National Gallery of Australia

The National Gallery of Australia announces the receipt of a bequest of nearly A$500,000 for the acquisition of Asian art. The largest cash donation in support of Asian art to the Gallery to this date, the bequest comes from the estate of two Sydney men, Peter Kuring and Gerald Vest, who died in the years 1986 and 1991 respectively. Well known around Sydney for their eclectic art collecting and love of fine cuisine and travel, it was the men's shared love of and admiration for Asian art that inspired Gerald Vest to leave his estate to the national collection. The funds generated by the estate will be used annually to purchase objects of fine quality to supplement and complement the Gallery's existing Asian collections. The couple's own collection included works from Japan, China, and Thailand and from island Southeast Asia, especially Bali. The Gallery hopes to reflect these Asian art interests in these future acquisitions.

In 1992, the Department of Asian Art received a gift from the Kuring-Vest estate of a pair of carved and lacquered Japanese sculptures of Buddhist saints (rakan or arhat) through the generosity of Rosemary Foot AO to whom the objects had been bequeathed. At the time of the gift, they were judged to be 18th-19th century. Further research has revealed that they are considerably older - probably late 17th century - and significant objects comparable in quality and age to similar rakan sculptures in the National Museum in Tokyo, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Detroit Institute of Arts. In fact, like those objects, the Gallery's pair of rakan probably originates from the Rakan-ji temple in Tokyo dedicated in 1695, and containing figures of the '500 Rakan'. A fine bronze Sukhothai head of the Buddha from 15th century Thailand, originally belonging to the two men was also donated to the National Gallery by Mrs Foot.

These objects and the forthcoming acquisitions of Asian art made from the bequest will form part of the Kuring Vest Bequest to the NGA. The works will be dedicated 'In Memory of PE Kuring and GE Vest'.

For further information contact Mr Ken Begg: 0412 174319 or 62824928.