Object biography by Jenna Bucien, view HERE.
Introduction: “I was first introduced to this unique idealized cityscape genre through the Monumental Lhasa exhibit at the Rubin Art Museum. This exhibit featured visions of Lhasa from the lens of both Tibetans and foreigners during the Ganden Podrang governance (1642-1959). In the exhibit brochure, curator Natasha Kimmet emphasizes that the architecture heavily featured in these landscapes act as “anchors for the identity of a place as well as focal points for associated stories and memories” (Rubin Museum of Art). It is only through these monuments – the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple, the Sera and Drepung Monasteries – that Lhasa truly becomes “the place of the gods,” a city that transcends the mundane and draws together otherwise disparate people.
The Potala Palace and Main Monuments of Lhasa is just one of the myriad idealized Lhasa thangkas. Created in the 18th or early 19th century by an unknown painter, this thangka may actually be from Inner Mongolia, not Lhasa itself. Some of the other thangkas were also created outside of Central Tibet; in fact, for the Tashilhunpo Monastery painting linked below, it is evident that the artist had never actually been to Lhasa. According to Kimmet, the architectural inaccuracies are simply too great.”