Over 70 years ago, Joseph Lizzadro began collecting Chinese jade carvings. He focused his collecting on the beauty of the material and the quality of craftsmanship. Today, the Lizzadro Family’s appreciation for the highest quality art created from stone makes the Museum’s collection unique in the world.
Many of the important pieces in the collection are dated to China’s most prolific era of carving, the Qianlong (Ch’ien Lung) period 1736 to 1795. Under the influence of Emperor Qianlong, many anonymous artisans of the era reached the highest level of carving artistry. The majority of the Museum’s collection represents works from the Qing (Ch’ing) Dynasty 1644 to 1912.
The gem material jade (jadeite and nephrite) is tough, durable, stable, and hard. Jade can be fashioned into objects with intricate detail and brought to a high polish. The jadeite ewer, pictured above, was created in the early 20th century using rotary tools. The skill of the Chinese carver is evident as the three colors found in a single boulder of jade are used to full advantage. Chinese jade carving is filled with symbolism. Each plant and creature have a meaning.
In February 2019, the Imperial Screen was sent to the Chicago Conservation Center for restoration. Watch its amazing transformation here! The screen is now on display in a 360 degree viewing case.