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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 Japanese Ceramics:  Jar with wisteria design, Imari-type Arita ware.
    Japanese Ceramics: Jar with wisteria design, Imari-type Arita ware. by unknown

    Porcelain jar with underglaze cobalt decoration, wisteria design. Imari-type Arita ware. (The Avery Brundage Collection, B67P7)

  • 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 Flower Container
    Flower Container

    An example of Agano ware used during the tea ceremony.

  • Thumbnail for Set of Trays and Tablewares
    Set of Trays and Tablewares

    This set is said to have been used by Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third Tokugawa shogun. "The entire set is decorated with a pear-skin ground (nashiji), a gold and silver maki-e clove floral scroll, and the three-leaved hollyhock mon. The edges of the trays are rimmed with silver, and the interiors of the bowls are finished with red laquer." - Suzuki Norio in "Japan: The Shaping of Daimyo Culture"

  • Thumbnail for Go Set
    Go Set

    Go set decorated with maki-e lacquer on wood.

  • Thumbnail for Noh Mask: Koomote
    Noh Mask: Koomote

    One of the earliest Noh masks to be developed, Koomote represents the countenance of a calm young woman, her neatly arranged hair parted in the middle, with three loose, but not overlapping, strands on either side. Ko (small), the first Japaanese character of the two that form the word koomote, suggests the youth, freshness and charm embodied in this mask. Reflecting the standard of beauty from the Heian period on, the oval face is full, with eyebrows shaved and repainted high on the wide forehead. The teeth are blackened (ohaguro), with a paste made of powdered iron filings and gall nuts steeped in vinegar or tea; this was a cosmetic fashion adopted by young women on coming of age. Although Koomote represents a general character type, subtle differences among masks are apparent. Some emphasize youthful freshness, some refinement, some a delicately erotic charm. - Matshushima Ken

  • Thumbnail for Overspread view from Kasumnigaseki street
    Overspread view from Kasumnigaseki street by Utagawa Hiroshige

    From the Famous Places 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. Kasumnigaseki Street was part of the quarter inhabited by Samurai and retainers. During almost the entire Edo period, Samurai, no longer needed to wage wars sought official posts in and around Edo. Their large numbers, relative economic independence, and surfeit of time made the pleasure quarters of Edo a bustling, dynamic center of Kabuki theater, brothels, and teahouses.

  • 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 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 General Amakasu Omi-no-kami Kagotoki riding a brown horse
    The General Amakasu Omi-no-kami Kagotoki riding a brown horse 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.

  • 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 Three unserved Tanzaku prints (poem cards)
    Three unserved Tanzaku prints (poem cards) by Utagawa Hiroshige

    Right: Girl Playing with a Battledore in the New Year Center: A Court Lady on an Outing for Picking herbs in the New Year Left: Paper Hina Dolls and a Peach Branch One of the most well known 19th century ukiyo-e artists, famous for his landscape views, particularly his images of the Tokaido. Most famous for his series of views along the Tokaido and of Edo and its surrounds, Hiroshige was also a prolific artist with a variety of subject matters. This sheet of three poem cards would have been cut into three separate prints.

  • Thumbnail for Japanese Surimono woodblock print
    Japanese Surimono woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai 1760-1849

    5 x 7 1/8 Japanese woodblock print of Surimono with Jurojin, geisha and child.

  • Thumbnail for Pillow (used by ladies) (side view)
    Pillow (used by ladies) (side view)

    Cushion resting on a wooden base. This type of pillow can be seen in Japanese prints and paintings of the Edo era (1603-1868 AD), so it is identified as “Japanese,†which differed from Chinese pillows largely made of ceramics. It was used by ladies who rested on the back of their neck to avoid messing up their elaborate hairdos. The drawer at the bottom of the wooden base may have contained personal belongings, including jewelry at some point. Its condition is fine, but the colors of the cushion have faded (the design and pattern on the cushion remain visible).

  • 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 Incense burner (detail)
    Incense burner (detail)

    The object is made of either solid silver or pewter due to its heavy weight. Its function could be as a paperweight, an incense burner, or both. The motifs (turtle, cranes, and pine trees) have common auspicious associations with longevity, and became favored by the samurai classes after the 16th century in Japan.

  • Thumbnail for 53 Stations of the Tokaido - Yokkaichi, Station 44
    53 Stations of the Tokaido - Yokkaichi, Station 44 by Ando Hiroshige (1797 - 1858)

    Color woodblock, 7 X 9 1/4 inches, ink and color on paper. People walking over bridge with grass to the thriving market town and port facing the Ise Bay. Yokkaichi means 'market on the fourth day'. Hiroshige presents the city from a sharp angle from the left; the bridge was one of a series of narrow bridges built over the river and low land close to the seashore to allow access to the market.

  • Thumbnail for Japanese courtesans woodblock print
    Japanese courtesans woodblock print by Katsukawa Shuncho 1726-1792

    14-3/4 x 10-1/4 Japanese woodblock print depicting courtesans with a servant who holds an iris under willows and the moon.

  • Thumbnail for 53 Stations of the Tokaido: Hakone - Station 11
    53 Stations of the Tokaido: Hakone - Station 11 by Ando Hiroshige (1797 - 1858)

    Color woodblock, 7 X 9 1/4 inches, ink and color on paper. Burning pink flames between grey mountains as porters travel along the narrow and steep mountain pass at Hakone, near Lake Ashinoko. Hiroshige captured the moment when porters struggle to carry their feudal retainers in sedan chairs as darkness nears.

  • Thumbnail for 53 Stations of the Tokaido: Odawara, Station 10
    53 Stations of the Tokaido: Odawara, Station 10 by Ando Hiroshige (1797 - 1858)

    Color woodblock, 7 X 9 1/4 inches, ink and color on paper. Odawara was a post town facing Sagami Bay. It is said that travelers on the Tokaido often stayed in Odawara for the night to rest in order to prepare for climbing the deadly Hakone pass the next day.l

  • Thumbnail for 53 Stations of the Tokaido - Goyu, Station 36
    53 Stations of the Tokaido - Goyu, Station 36 by Ando Hiroshige (1797 - 1858)

    Color woodblock, 7 X 9 1/4 inches, ink and color on paper. Bare-chested porters walking over bridge in the post town of Goyu, carrying heavy goods for on poles.

  • Thumbnail for Scene from the series: Story of Loyal, Prominent, and Faithful Samurai, act 4 (Ch?y? gishi roku dai yon)
    Scene from the series: Story of Loyal, Prominent, and Faithful Samurai, act 4 (Ch?y? gishi roku dai yon) by Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1864)

    Woodblock print; ink and colors on paper. Signed: Ichisai Toyokuni Hitsu. Two round censor seals at the top of the picture used between18471848. Right: Yoshimura Gentaro; left: Muramatsu Yoshimura. This print is nice because its border has not been trimmed and the round censor seals are still intact above the top margin of the picture. The series portrays the most famous vendetta of samurai retainers in the Edo period, the Chushingura, or the tale of the 47 masterless samurai (ronin). On the snowy night of January 30, 1703, in an incident known as the Ako vendetta, forty-six samurai who had sworn an oath to revenge their master's needless death burst into the mansion of the man responsible for the death of their former master, Asano Naganori, the lord of Ako. They were led by Oishi Kuranosuke, Asano's chief advisor. Their intended victim, Kira Yoshinaka, was a powerful noble and an important retainer of the imperial household. After refusing the opportunity to die by his own hand, Kira was killed with the same dagger Asano had used to commit seppuku, and then beheaded. At dawn on the following morning the samurai surrendered themselves to the priests of a Buddhist temple to await their punishment. The vendetta served as the basis for what is without doubt the most famous and popular work of the Japanese Kabuki theater, Kanadehon Chushingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers: A Model for Emulation). During the Tokugawa era (1600-1868) there was a ban on the depiction in art or the dramatization on stage of current historical events using the actual names of the nobility involved. Therefore, the theatrical version of the Ako vendetta was set in the days of the fourteenth-century shogun Takauiji; Asano, Kira, and Oishi became Enya, Moronao, and Oboshi, and the setting of the play was changed from Edo to Kamakura. Act IV, depicted here, consists entirely of Enya's seppuku, the punishment ordered by the shogun for his attempt on Moronao's life. This scene, filled with quiet, yet terrible, passion, is one of the classical moments of kabuki theater. As the preparations for his suppuku are completed, Enya swears to "return to life again and again until my vengeance is accomplished." From an adjoining room Enya's retainers beg through the closed door to be allowed one last look at their master. In silence Enya, dressed in white, the traditional color of death, waits for Yuranosuke while he continues his preparations. A thick, white tatami mat is laid with branches of ceremonial herbs in each corner. Enya slides his outer-garment off on his shoulders and tucks the long ends firmly under his knees so that the tension of the fabric will cause him to fall face down. At a silent signal Rikiya enters bringing a short sword on a wooden stand. Finally, there is nothing else left to do; Enya gathers his composure, and in a swift motion takes up the sword and drives it into his stomach. Just then Yuranosuke enters and speaks in calm, almost fatherly tones, bidding Enya to die bravely. Gazing steadily into his chamberlain's face, Enya tells Yuranosuke that he must avenge his death using this very same sword, and with a last effort completes the act of ritual suicide.

  • Thumbnail for Kozuka
    Kozuka

    Sheath for challenge knife (kozuka). Blackened steel and gold. Very fine workmanship and in excellent condition. This metal sheath is one of 16 in a two-layered lacquer box. Making sword fittings (menuki) has been an Art in Japan since the time of the machishu, the 17th c. Kyoto, Osaka, Sakai predecessors of the chonin of Edo (now Tokyo), the latter being the creators of Ukiyo-e. This sheath is of extremely high quality, something true of others in its group. Any are fit for a museum, but I chose this one because its decoration was so amusing. In Japan, the horse is a standard gift to a temple. When a horse is too expensive, a painting of a horse (ema) can be substituted. This knife sheath bears an image of an ema on one side. The square frame of the ema is shown and within it, a monkey holding a long line. The line goes outside the ema over to the other side of the sheath. There, the tethered horse gallops away.

  • Thumbnail for Kabuki Actor at his Dressing Table
    Kabuki Actor at his Dressing Table by Unidentified artist, possibly Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1864)

    Woodblock print, surimono type, ink, colors, and embossing on paper. Surimono were limited edition, fine quality prints produced for a small, select group of clients, in this case, fans of the actor portrayed.