One of the most influential art critics in the Buddhist world was the French savant Prof. Andre Foucher. It was he who first proposed the Greek influence on Buddhist art that gave rise to the Buddha statue that we all know today.
He wrote many outstanding works in this field of studies, covering a wide range of essays on Buddhist art around the world. Many of these were gathered together in his book The Beginning of Buddhist Art, a collection of his essays translated into English and eventually published in 1917.
One of the essays in that book was entitled Buddhist Art in Java, and emerged from a one month field trip the author made to Java in 1907. This was an important trip for the good author as he managed to identify many reliefs at Borobudur which before him had eluded identification.
The 120 Lalitavistara reliefs on the first gallery were already well known, but below them are a similar number of reliefs which at that time were unknown. Foucher managed to identify many of them by reference to the Divyāvadāna, a Sanskrit collection of past life stories, and the Pāḷi Jātaka collection.
Nearly all of his identifications had stood the test of time and are still accepted today (I rejected one or two myself when preparing my own study of this gallery). Unfortunately, no more have been identified since his time.
A few years ago I prepared a pdf of this work together with my own colour photographs and was hoping to get it published. Searching for a publisher I was put in touch with Ehipassiko in Jakarta, and they suggested I prepare a volume myself. This initiated my series of books on the reliefs at Borobudur.
Having just finished the series, I came across the original book and have now decided to publish it online to offer a further insight into the reliefs. Foucher had more space to write about each of the reliefs and therefore could discuss them more fully than I was able, so I think this is a valuable addition for the site.
It also marks the second of the works I am publishing recently of classic works on the monument. The first was Prof. Krom’s work on the Lalitavistara, which I published a few weeks ago. I do hope to add further to these works by great predecessors, as and when I am able.