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  • Thumbnail for Minamoto Yoritomo
    Minamoto Yoritomo

    One of the earliest extant examples of formal secular portraiture. The sitter is traditionally identified as Minamoto Yoritomo (1147-1199), the first shogun of Japan. After the death of the retired emperor Go-Shirakawa in 1192, Yoritomo received from the court the coveted title of Seiitaishogun (Great General Who Quells the Barbarians).

  • Thumbnail for Katana Blades
    Katana Blades by Masashi daijo Tadahiro , Masahiro , Tsuda Sukehiro

    Leftmost: This blade, somewhat shorter than the typical katana, was forged by Musashi daijo Tadahiro. Blades from school he founded, known as Hizen to, are characterized by a fine itame (woodgrain) surface and temper lines that are either straight (suguha) or have irregular clove" shapes (choji midare), as on this blade. Middle: Echizen no kami Sukehiro was apprenticed to the Osaka swordsmitch Tsuda Sukehiro; he was adopted by his teacher and inherited his name. At first Sukehiro made temper lines with irregular ""clove"" shapes (choji midare), like those of his teacher, but eventually he pioneered a beautiful and distinctive style of temper line reminiscent of the shape of ocean waves known as toran midare, as can be seen on ths example. Rightmost: (Momoyama Period) This fine example of Masahiro's work, typical of the Momoyama-period blade, is wide with a slight curve and large point. It has an itame (woodgrain) surface texture, and the temper line consists of small undulat

  • 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 Bronze mirror stand and mirror
    Bronze mirror stand and mirror

    Cast in the form of a recumbent unicorn or qilin supporting a crescent shaped base for a mirror, this mythical beast carries its head turned to its left and has its legs folded beneath the equine body. In traditional Chinese mythology the predominant characteristic of the qilin is that of benevolence and kindness, offering an evocative addition to a court dressing table. The mirror, of a much earlier date, is cast with typical grape vine and lion decoration on the reverse, a subject frequently seen in Tang mirrors; the reflecting surface is now degraded.The stand is 17th or18th century and the mirror is earlier Tang Dynasty, 7th thru 9th century.

  • Thumbnail for The Minister of the Right, Minamoto Yoritomo Setting thousands of Cranes Free in Front of Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine, Kamakura to Receive the Blessing of a Pious and Virtuous Life
    The Minister of the Right, Minamoto Yoritomo Setting thousands of Cranes Free in Front of Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine, Kamakura to Receive the Blessing of a Pious and Virtuous Life 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. This prints was most likely commissioned by the official named in its title or done to court the favor of said official. The long title and large size of the print were meant to denote the official’s importance.

  • Thumbnail for The Courtesan Miyakoji of Tamaya Brothel and her Attendants in Edo-cho Itchome Street
    The Courtesan Miyakoji of Tamaya Brothel and her Attendants in Edo-cho Itchome Street by Kikugawa Eizan

    From the Seiro Meikun Zoroi (A Set of Famous Courtesans from Green Houses) series. Though he studied with his father, many consider Kikugawa Eizan to be the best of the late followers of Utamaro. Known for his highly elegant (furyu) bijin-ga the artist continued a stylish elegance that many of his contemporaries eschewed for a more earthy realism. Curiously, he all but ceased ukiyo-e printmaking in the 1820s, a full forty years before his death. 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 The courtesan Yaegiri of the Oginoya Brothel and a portrait of the priest Jakuren
    The courtesan Yaegiri of the Oginoya Brothel and a portrait of the priest Jakuren by Utagawa Hiroshige

    One of the most well known 19th century ukiyo-e artists, famous for his landscape views, particularly his images of the Tokaido. Jakuren was a poet and a Buddhist monk was instrumental in compiling the Shinkokinshu (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Waka), around 1205 – 1206, which included thirty-five of his own works. The poem card at the top of this image depicts an image of the poet and his poem which was number eighty-seven in the well-known Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poems by 100 Artists), a collection of tanka (five line poems of 31 syllables, arranged as 5, 7, 5, 7, 7).

  • 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 Bronze rice measure
    Bronze rice measure

    This rectangular tapering vessel is an example of the everyday, utilitarian objects that were fashioned in mold cast bronze in the 18th century. The decoration, which incorporates neatly finished human figures in genre scenes along with typical decorative border embellishments, no doubt was fashioned for use in an important household, rather than for use in a less grand setting. 3 3/4in. high, 5 1/2in wide.

  • Thumbnail for Dawn of the Year
    Dawn of the Year by Ding Fuzhi, 1879-1949

    Artist is a native of Hangzhou on the West Lake and he was an expert in seal carving. As a painter his work falls in the category of 'gongbihua', fine stroke painting. The title is inscribed by the artist.

  • Thumbnail for Eagle on Plum
    Eagle on Plum by Chang Xuchi, 1899-1956

    This powerful image of an eagle on a branch was painted in Boston as a demonstration piece in 1943 during the artist's American tour.

  • Thumbnail for Large porcelain dish - detail of bottom
    Large porcelain dish - detail of bottom

    The decoration on this blue and white charger was inspired by Islamic ceramics of the 16th and 17th centuries and influenced the decorative patterns used on 18th century Dutch Delft wares.

  • Thumbnail for Gilt bronze pin
    Gilt bronze pin

    This intricate and beautifully detailed applique comprising three overlapping circular dragon discs could have been an adornment on a court or military dress or perhaps an attachment for a horse trapping. 1 inch high by 3 inches wide.

  • Thumbnail for Bronze ritual vessel gu
    Bronze ritual vessel gu

    In the same tradition as the preceding object, this well cast archaistic revival vessel is decorated with the requisite zoomorphic design employing the use of taotie masks and classical leiwen background pattern. The solidly defined flanges and the three registers of decorative spaces (upper, central and lower) reflect the metal smith’s attention to the strict orthodoxy of ancient bronze decoration. College of Wooster records show several Chinese characters are painted on the inside face of flanges. One legible character is "shou", which means longevity. Over these characters are four others in red - the first is "Song" for the dynasty, the fourth means "recorded", and the second may be "liang", meaning good in quality. 16 inches high x 7.75 wide; base of 4.75 inches.

  • Thumbnail for Chrysanthemums and Birds by Rock
    Chrysanthemums and Birds by Rock by Zhang, Gun

    Chinese hanging scroll with vertically-oriented painting and a bronze-colored brocade silk mounting. The image is 33 cm x 120 cm and has dry, lively brush strokes illustrating an autumn scene of flowering chrysanthemum emerging from a deeply worn rock with two birds 'fighting' while a third bird perches above.

  • Thumbnail for Autumn Leaves and Chrysanthemums, full view
    Autumn Leaves and Chrysanthemums, full view by Jin Dui

    Horizontal Chinese painting; ink and colors on paper; 34.2 cm x 27.3 cm; white chrysanthemums, symbol of 9th month, autumn and fruit blossoms; calligraphy and one seal by artist.

  • Thumbnail for Autumn Leaves and Chrysanthemums, characters
    Autumn Leaves and Chrysanthemums, characters by Jin Dui

    Horizontal Chinese painting; ink and colors on paper; 34.2 cm x 27.3 cm; white chrysanthemums, symbol of 9th month, autumn and fruit blossoms; calligraphy and one seal by artist.

  • Thumbnail for Pipa Song
    Pipa Song by Jiang Yun

    Horizontal Chinese painting; ink and colors on paper; 38.8 cm x 24.3 cm; lady and lute on covered barge, only mast and lanterns of another barge are visible, with willow, pine, and blossoming trees. Jiang Yun’s painting was a token of friendship, responding to a friend’s request. The subject is based on the famous Tang era poem, Lyrics of the Pipa (Lute) by Bai Juyi (772-846 C.E.).

  • Thumbnail for Lotus, full view
    Lotus, full view by Wu Shouxian

    Chinese hanging scroll with vertically-oriented painting; black ink and trace of red on paper; image area 31 cm x 132.4 cm; brocade frame, flush roller with brocade ends; lotus represents purity, perfection, summer, and the flower carried by Ho Hsien-Ku, the eighth of the eight immortals revered in Buddhist worship; calligraphy, one seal by the artist.

  • Thumbnail for After Hiroshige, front view stage 2
    After Hiroshige, front view stage 2 by unknown

    One of nineteen prints which illustrate the process of making a multi-block multicolor woodblock print.The print reproduced is the view of Asakusa Kinryuzan (Asakusa Kannon Temple) from Ando Hiroshige’s Toto yukimi hakkei (Eight Views of Snow in the Eastern Capital).

  • Thumbnail for Moonlit Bridge on the Sumida River, front view
    Moonlit Bridge on the Sumida River, front view by Kobayashi Eijir?

    From the Hasegawa series. Inked in dark blue and black, this view of the bridge from below evokes Hiroshige, Kuniyoshi, and Whistler.

  • Thumbnail for Orchids and Rocks, characters
    Orchids and Rocks, characters by Wu Shouxian

    Chinese hanging scroll with vertically-oriented painting; black ink and tan on paper; image area 31 cm x 132.8 cm; brocade frame, flush roller with brocade ends; orchids adorn rock face; calligraphy, three seals.

  • Thumbnail for Jue or Libation Cup
    Jue or Libation Cup

    Late Shang period to early Western Zhou is often referred to as the 'Period of Brilliance' that marks the high point of Chinese Bronze Age, due to a relatively stability created by central political power. It was the era where the Jue form of ritual wine-drinking vessels was most encountered. The strong sense of spirituality and the feeling of peace of the time are well expressed in this remarkable Jue. Jue is one of the ritual wine-drinking bronze vessels for the elite class, exclusively in sacrifices and rituals. It was used to warm wine for libation. The stiff and compact body carries a sense of refrainment with a flat bottom, supported by three blade-shaped legs. The raised tail and restrained spout transform the Jue to a lively upright bird ready to soar upwards. The short rectangular posts are flat on the outer face and rounded on the inner face; they are uneven because one had been broken and insecurely mended with some white substance. The fractured joints between the body and the post caps indicate that they were casted separately. They stand on opposite sides of the rim, holding conical finials bearing a whirligig pattern carved in sunken incised lines; less visible on one post, due to heavy corrosion. The limited decoration of the vessel focuses on the upper section of the body with a narrow and single register, ornamented with a tiger motif rising from the background of dense spirals lei-wen (or 'thunder pattern'). It is bordered with a small repetitive circle motif and bisected by a flat handle, accentuated by a head of an archaic dragon. As part of the late Shang bronze ornaments, this combination of abstract animal figurative, geometrical form, and the lei-wen, almost always represents the conjuration of a cosmological myth. There are visible flaws on the ornament band and behind the handle. The seams are more visible on the outer faces, especially at the band of decoration. The Jue projects a sense of fierceness and reverent awe, due to the effects of the restrained decoration and the simplicity of the design. Prehistoric bronzes, as in the case of this vessel, were mostly found from large hoards or graves, evidently indicated on the inner and outer surfaces covered with emerald-green patina and traces of earthy incrustation. Its exceptional exquisiteness lies in the sense of austerity in shape and design, the aesthetic sense of technical gaucherie and the rough encrustation of beautiful emerald-green patina on the surface formed during centuries of burial.

  • Thumbnail for The Window, front view
    The Window, front view by Kawanishi Hide

    In contrast to Kawanishi’s view of the industrial port of Kobe, this print represents the modern-looking traditional side of Japan, with starkly vertical and horizontal lines of shoji screens opened just enough to reveal a stone lantern and garden greenery. This work is a charming example of how sosaku hanga could emphasize the apparent paradox of the inherent modernity of traditional Japan.

  • Thumbnail for Ken Tenju hanging scroll, corner view
    Ken Tenju hanging scroll, corner view 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.