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  • Thumbnail for Japanese Ceramics: Raku Tea bowl, known as "Summer Festival Music."  View from side, showing profile of the piece.
    Japanese Ceramics: Raku Tea bowl, known as "Summer Festival Music." View from side, showing profile of the piece. by attributed to Raku Sonyu

    Raku ware tea bowl ("Chawan") named "Summer Festival Music." The bowl is attributed to Raku Sonyu (1664-1716), the fifth generation of the Kyoto Raku family of potters. A study in understatement, note the gentle undulation of the rim of the bowl and the slight convexity of the contour of the side of the bowl, almost inviting one's hand to fit it. The surface of the piece is typical of the black raku glaze, with a soft, slightly lustrous quality and a slightly pitted surface, giving it a highly tactile quality and one that almost resembles that of a river-worn rock, calling to mind the stricture that a good ceramic piece should be like an object found in nature, rather than an object deliberately made.

  • Thumbnail for Shisendo, upper garden
    Shisendo, upper garden

    Southern portion of the inner (â€upperâ€) garden as seen from the Shisendo. Built by samurai Ishikawa Jozan (1583-1672) beginning in 1636. He bacame a scholar and based Shisendo on retreats of mid-T’ang dynasty Chinese poets and scholars.

  • Thumbnail for Sakuma Shogen
    Sakuma Shogen

    Depiction of Sakuma Shogen Sanekatsu (1570-1642) sitting in front of a bamboo screen facing his boy attendant. A warrior who first served Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598), Sakuma then seved three successive generations of Tokugawa shoguns: Ieyasu, Hidetada, and Iemitsu.

  • Thumbnail for Noh Costume
    Noh Costume

    Embroidery with glued-on gold or silver leaf. In Noh, costumes decorated in this technique are known themselves as nuihaku.

  • Thumbnail for Kotsuzumi Drum and Storage Box
    Kotsuzumi Drum and Storage Box

    The kotsuzumi is a percussion instrument shaped much like an hourglass, with a thin middle and two flaring ends. Drumheads of leather mounted on iron rings are fitted on either end with the two drumheads connected by hemp cords. It is held with the left hand, placed on the right shoulder, and struck with the fingers of the right hand. This set is decorated with a spring design of rafts with cherry blossoms in gold maki-e on a black lacquered ground. This kotsuzumi is accompanied by a storage box decorated witha design in maki-e on black lacquer of running water and maple leaves. The design allude to many poems from the Heian period regarding the Tatsuta Riber, famous for the autumn foliage along its banks." - Kawakami Shigeki

  • Thumbnail for Distant view of Mt. Asama from Urawa stationq
    Distant view of Mt. Asama from Urawa stationq by Eisen Keisai

    Keisai Eisen was born in Edo, the son of a calligraphy artist. He was apprenticed to Kikugawa Eizan and studied traditional painting before becoming a printmaker. Throughout his career, Eisen’s work was productive and varied. Book illustrations and prints were his first commissioned works. Early on, he achieved lasting fame for his bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women), and both contributed to and edited the Ukiyo-e ruiko (History of Prints of the Floating World) one of the few surviving sources of information-rich material on printmaking art and artists in Japan. At times, he struck partnerships with other artists of his age, such as his collaboration with Hiroshige, which resulted in a series of landscape prints entitled The Sixty-nine Stations on the Kiso Highway. Eisen also released many surimono (privately issued prints), shunga (erotic prints), and some landscape pieces. In addition to his career as a printmaker, Eisen pursued other sources of income. A self-described hard-drinker who humbly titled his version of Japanese print history Mumeio zhuihitsu (Essays by a Nameless Old Man), Eisen was also the manager and proprietor of a brothel for a time. Today, however he is most famous for his portrayals of the beauties of old Japan. As a result of the success of Hiroshige’s “Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido, publishers commissioned many artists to do series in similar veins. Eisen both collaborated with Hiroshige and executed his own series of images from the Kisokaido (Great Western Highway).

  • Thumbnail for The peak of Satta Pass near Yui station
    The peak of Satta Pass near Yui station by Utagawa Hiroshige

    From the first Tokaido series, Hoeido Tokaido edition. One of the most well known 19th century ukiyo-e artists, famous for his landscape views, particularly his images of the Tokaido. As the busiest highway in the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Tokaido offered numerous chances to experience a variety of social classes and day-to-day activities. Numerous images of this highway were created during the Edo period, some in singular views and others in series, the most famous of which are Hiroshige’s numerous editions. The images depicted the commercial activity along the road and famous views seen on the journey. Hiroshige, in particular, also chose many of the views based on varying times of year and the weather conditions that offered an ever-changing impression of the landscape. Greatly influenced by his teacher Utagawa Toyoharu, Hiroshige often employed perspective views rather than the more traditional stacked and flattened views of the landscape found in the Kano school of painting. This slightly more western view helps to explain his popularity among 19th century artists in Europe. In this image, near station number sixteen, Hiroshige shows travelers about to get a majestic view of Mt. Fuji. Long a traditional subject matter in Kano style painting, views of Mt. Fuji were charged with national pride and an important sense of place to the Japanese. The artist combines this ancient tradition with a far more popular and temporal sense of place.

  • Thumbnail for Two women with infant
    Two women with infant by Utamaro Kitagawa

    The dominant ukiyo-e artist of the late 18th century, Utamaro is as famous for his legendary life as for his unsurpassed images of courtesans and famous beauties of his day. Bijin-ga (images of beauties) might be of actual contemporary and historic women or of an idealized type of beauty specific to a time and region. Courtesans in particular were usually depicted in the latest and most elaborate fashions of the day. After an increasing number of censorship laws were passed to limit the production of prints of famous courtesans, thought to corrupt the morals of the citizens of Japan, many artists turned to domestic images of mothers and daughters or women with servants and generalized pictures of the latest fashions in order to satisfy the demand for bijin-ga and skirt the laws.

  • Thumbnail for Woman wearing a fashionable kimono: The Chrysanthemum Festival
    Woman wearing a fashionable kimono: The Chrysanthemum Festival by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

    The son of a silk dyer, Utagawa Kuniyoshi was apprenticed to the printmaker Utagawa Toyokuni I. whose other pupils included Toyoshige and Kunisada. Unlike his master, who specialized in actor portraits, Kuniyoshi excelled in depicting historical scenes and events along with celebrated warriors. Like many of his contemporaries, the artist experimented widely, producing prints of everything from landscapes to erotica. Kuniyoshi’s first published work was a set of book illustrations released in 1814, although his name remained obscure for several years until his publication of a print series depicting 75 heroes from Japanese lore and legend. When prints of actors and beautiful women (bijin-ga) were banned by the Japanese government in 1842, the Japanese middle class became enthusiastic supporters of Kuniyoshi’s seemingly inoffensive historical prints. In 1843, the artist released a satirical triptych print criticizing the Shogun, launching an official investigation that resulted in the destruction of Kuniyoshi’s woodblocks and unsold prints, as well as an official censure. The print, however, remained popular with the middle class. Bijin-ga (images of beauties) might be of actual contemporary and historic women or of an idealized type of beauty specific to a time and region. Courtesans in particular were usually depicted in the latest and most elaborate fashions of the day. After restrictive censorship laws were passed in the 1840s, many artists turned to generalized pictures of the latest fashions and more domestic settings for their images of beauties.

  • Thumbnail for The actor Ichimura Uzaemon XIII as the scoundrel Benten-Kozo Kikunosuke
    The actor Ichimura Uzaemon XIII as the scoundrel Benten-Kozo Kikunosuke by Utagawa Yoshiiku

    A pupil of Kuniyoshi, who despite the innovations and new subject matters and styles brought on by the Meiji period continued to practice a fairly traditional style of ukiyo-e. Ukiyo-e artists were often commissioned to execute portraits of kabuki actors in some of their most famous and popular roles. These portraits served as advertisements of an upcoming performance and as souvenirs for fans of kabuki, who would often loudly shout and cheer when one of their favorite actors struck a particularly dramatic and expressive pose (mie). Like many professions in Japan, acting was often a family tradition, thus like some ukiyo-e artists, actors would take the name of their predecessor and simply add a number to mark their position in the line of succession. The scoundrel in this case is the lead in a popular Kabuki play of the Edo period written by Kawatake Mokuami (1816– 1893). The role demands a wide range for an actor who must transform from a young maiden into a rough criminal.

  • Thumbnail for Ferry boats on the Tenryu River at Mitsuke Station
    Ferry boats on the Tenryu River at Mitsuke Station by Utagawa Hiroshige

    From the Tsutakichi series. One of the most well-known 19th century ukiyo-e artists, famous for his landscape views, particularly his images of the Tokaido. This image was originally a part of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s collection of Japanese woodblock prints. It along with 36 others came to the Wriston from a benefactor who received them from Wright in lieu of a payment for printing services. Many of the prints have Wright’s handwritten notations in the margins. Though many of the Wright works in our collection are of lesser quality, the images serve as an example of the interest in Asian art that so informed Wright’s architecture. As the busiest highway in the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Tokaido offered numerous chances to experience a variety of social classes and day-to-day activities. Numerous images of this highway were created during the Edo period, some in singular views and others in series, the most famous of which are Hiroshige’s numerous editions. The images depicted the commercial activity along the road and famous views seen on the journey. Hiroshige, in particular, also chose many of the views based on varying times of year and the weather conditions that offered an ever-changing impression of the landscape. Greatly influenced by his teacher Utagawa Toyoharu, Hiroshige often employed perspective views rather than the more traditional stacked and flattened views of the landscape found in the Kano school of painting. This slightly more western view helps to explain his popularity among 19th century artists in Europe.This image represents station number twenty-nine. Though often fordable by foot, during heavy rains the Tenryu river was deep and swift and many boatmen plied their trade ferrying travelers across the river.

  • Thumbnail for The Tenryu River near Mitsuke station
    The Tenryu River near Mitsuke station by Utagawa Hiroshige

    From the first Tokaido series, Hoeido Tokaido edition. One of the most well-known 19th century ukiyo-e artists, famous for his landscape views, particularly his images of the Tokaido. As the busiest highway in the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Tokaido offered numerous chances to experience a variety of social classes and day-to-day activities. Numerous images of this highway were created during the Edo period, some in singular views and others in series, the most famous of which are Hiroshige’s numerous editions. The images depicted the commercial activity along the road and famous views seen on the journey. Hiroshige, in particular, also chose many of the views based on varying times of year and the weather conditions that offered an ever-changing impression of the landscape. Greatly influenced by his teacher Utagawa Toyoharu, Hiroshige often employed perspective views rather than the more traditional stacked and flattened views of the landscape found in the Kano school of painting. This slightly more western view helps to explain his popularity among 19th century artists in Europe. This was near station number twenty-eight.

  • Thumbnail for The plum garden in Kameido
    The plum garden in Kameido by Utagawa Hiroshige

    From the One Hundred Famous Views of Edo series. One of the most well known 19th century ukiyo-e artists, famous for his landscape views, particularly his images of the Tokaido. Though probably most known for his numerous editions of images from the Tokaido, Hiroshige also produced a number of prints and editions of other well known landscape sites. Among them were Famous Places of the Eastern Capital, Famous Places in the Sixty-Odd Provinces, and Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji, among others. These few were a modern interpretation of a much earlier tradition in which Chinese artists and poets would paint and write about important locales. As in his Tokaido prints, however Hiroshige imbued these modern views with a sense of a specific contemporary time and place often employing a more western perspective and showing modern day viewers inhabiting the scene.

  • Thumbnail for Uki-e: The interior of the Ichimura-za Theater, Edo
    Uki-e: The interior of the Ichimura-za Theater, Edo by Utagawa Toyoharu

    Utagawa Toyharu was the founder of the Utagawa school of ukiyo-e painting and printmaking. He was born in Kyoto and studied Kano school painting under Tsuruzawa Tangei. Upon moving to Edo in the 1760s he studied with Shigenaga and Sekien and began releasing his own work shortly thereafter. In 1763 he became a printmaker in the ukiyo-e tradition. After establishing himself as a foremost master of printmaking, Toyoharu began to take pupils, among them Toyohiro and Toyokuni, who assumed Toyoharu’s title after his death. Toyoharu’s output was diverse. He is probably best-known for creating the innovative uki-e or perspective print, which was a melding of Japanese and Western art tastes for composition and design. He created several landscape print series in the uki-e manner but he also worked within traditional subject matters and designs. The perspective print illustrates the influence of western images as they made there way into Japan. While contrary to traditional Japanese depictions of space, perspective was particularly appropriate to depictions of the floating world. Attending the Japanese theater, particularly Kabuki, was a popular pastime in the theater quarters of Edo and other large cities. Many plays depicted well-known historical and literary events from Japan’s past, while others featured narratives of a particularly modern bent. The uki-e print was able to capture the bustle and din of the Kabuki theater and the pleasure quarters in which they were located.

  • Thumbnail for Ken Tenju hanging scroll, view of brocade
    Ken Tenju hanging scroll, view of brocade by Tenju, Ken

    Japanese Edo period hanging scroll with vertically-oriented painting and a brown brocade mounting. The image area is 28 cm x 187 cm and depicts the landscape of a Nanga school with the scene of a mountain and hut to the left, a river to the right, a bridge in the foreground, and an inscription to the upper right.

  • Thumbnail for Ken Tenju hanging scroll, upper seal
    Ken Tenju hanging scroll, upper seal by Tenju, Ken

    Japanese Edo period hanging scroll with vertically-oriented painting and a brown brocade mounting. The image area is 28 cm x 187 cm and depicts the landscape of a Nanga school with the scene of a mountain and hut to the left, a river to the right, a bridge in the foreground, and an inscription to the upper right.

  • Thumbnail for Six-fold Screen, Bird and Flower
    Six-fold Screen, Bird and Flower by Kanô Yoshinobu II (1774-1826)

    67 ¾†x 12’. the Union College Yoshinobu II Screen are a particularly interesting way to understand the differences between Kanô School painting and Ukiyo-e because while the two differed in the late Tokugawa Period (1615-1868), they originally started out much more similar.

  • Thumbnail for 53 Stations of the Tokaido: Kakegawa, Station 27
    53 Stations of the Tokaido: Kakegawa, Station 27 by Ando Hiroshige (1797 - 1858)

    Color woodblock, 7 X 9 1/4 inches, ink and color on paper. Hiroshige highlights pilgrims, Buddhist monks, and worshipers as they cross the bridge toward the torii entrance to a temple.

  • Thumbnail for Three Pekinese pups in ivory with five-part inro case(side one)
    Three Pekinese pups in ivory with five-part inro case(side one) by Gyokushi

    Japanese lacquer inro case with ivory toggle in the form of three Pekinese puppies, climbing one on top of the other. The inro case is decorated with a hen and chick in gold and red lacquer pecking at the ground under a spray of bamboo.

  • Thumbnail for 53 Stages of the Tokaido
    53 Stages of the Tokaido by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1855)

    Shirasuga, the Slope at Shiomi (Shirasuga, Shiomizaka zu) from the series Fifty-three Stages of the Tokaido Road (Tôkaidô gojûsan tsugi no uchi). This famous set of color woodblock prints appeared between 1833-34 and was published by Hôeidô and Senkakudô. Good condition.

  • Thumbnail for Black Japanese Helmet
    Black Japanese Helmet

    Helmet, black with gold 5-petal flower emblem, red underside. Japanese helmet of the type called jingasa, 12x 13 inches. Lacquered wood in excellent condition. During the Tokugawa period, a key means of social control were the great parades of warlords and their retainers going to and from the capital city of Edo, where they were required to spend every other year in attendance upon the Shogun. These “alternate attendance†(sankin kotai) processions, up to 4,000 strong in the case of the Maeda clan, had the effect of keeping the common people of Japan in awe of the warriors. “Alternate attendance†thus helped keep the peace, something that the Shogunate was so good at doing that there was no war for the 250 years of the Tokugawa reign. As the Pax Tokugawa continued on and on, however, the Shogun and his retainers became warriors who never went to war. The actual ability to fight thus became secondary to maintaining a fearsome image. As Herman Ooms puts it in his essay in Edo: Art in Japan, 1615-1868, form became norm, and image, more important than reality. It is just this process that transformed armor into Art. Armor in the late Tokugawa Period is all about image, a point quite clear in this helmet. The helmet purports to be covered with silk that parts to reveal rough steel plates held together with large, round rivets. In fact, the helmet is made entirely of a thin, light wood covered with a layer of lacquer and gilt.

  • Thumbnail for Gold Lacquer Inro with Ivory Netsuke
    Gold Lacquer Inro with Ivory Netsuke

    H: 6 cm W: 5 cm L: 1.8 cm D: of netsuke 4.2 cm. Gold lacquer inro with overlay design in mother of pearl and shakudo. Flying crane design. Ivory netsuke: turtle and toad; signed inside. Cover: Korin

  • Thumbnail for Views of Osaka
    Views of Osaka

    One of a pair (originally) of 6-panel screens; each panel is 68" x 25".A pre-modern work, a variant, in the Edo Period, of the Rakuchû Rakugai type of views of Kyoto. Here, we see scenes of Osaka. Suyari (clouds) applied in pieces.

  • Thumbnail for Tanegashima Rifle case - detail of emblem
    Tanegashima Rifle case - detail of emblem

    Flint and safety pin lacking, but otherwise in excellent condition. So, too, is the lacquered, fitted case, with its identifying mon, or crest of the daimyo clan for whom it was made. The firearm refers to one of the most interesting periods of Japanese history, and can be dated to a fairly precise time period, because such weapons did not exist in Japan before they were introduced by the Portuguese in 1543. The Portuguese had been blown off course in a storm and made landfall at Tanegashima, a small island off the coast of Kyushu (hence the name "Tanegashima" Rifle). This weapon is much more rare than a samurai sword because the time when it was in use was of such short duration. Use of such guns was banned early in the Edo period. This rifle is heavy! Metal fittings with lion on butt end. On lower surface of the rifle, metal fittings, as in sword furniture, with cloud pattern near the end (cf. smoke from firing). Halfway down is a flaming jewel. Back near the trigger, a 3-clawed dragon form in the clouds. Behind the dragon is a character on a round metal insert; then the trigger; on the bottom of the butt, another character. On the sides of the shoulder piece is further decoration (left side, cherry blossoms; right side, kara-shishi [Chinese lion-dog), and on upper surface is peony, often associated with the lion-dog in Japanese decorative arts. Above the trigger is a samurai helmet; on the metal assembly is another character, prob. the maker's symbol. Lacquered case is shaped to fit the rifle, and bears the mon of a five-petaled flower with circular petals, possibly a plum, within a circle.

  • Thumbnail for Rakuchu Rakugai - "In and Around the City of Kyoto" - detail
    Rakuchu Rakugai - "In and Around the City of Kyoto" - detail

    Detail of right screen of an original pair of 6-fold screens; 67" H. x 142" W. (6 panels). The type originated in the Momoyama period, when they were presented to visiting warlords, to take home as a memento of their visit to Kyoto. This particular example is relatively late for the type, but a good example. The iconography for this particular type of screen pairs is set, and this example follows the program for the right hand screen of the original pair, depicting the colorful floats of the Gion Matsuri (Kyoto’s “signature†festival) in LR, and various Kyoto landmarks, like the Kiyomizudera (a temple with a veranda supported on high pilings) in the upper right.