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Visual Arts of Japan

Charles Marvin Fairchild Memorial Gallery
February 13, 2004
May 16, 2004


Visual Arts of Japan continues the Art Collection's "Visual Arts of the World" series in the Fairchild Gallery, which began in  2003 with the two-part Visual Arts of the Americas (links: part 1, part 2).

Lotus Flowers
Chikuso Sôun
Color woodblock print
368 x 244 mm

Chikuso (or Chigusa) Sôun was a leader of an early twentieth century art group known as Heigogakai. He is associated with Nihonga, modern Japanese-style painting in the late Meiji era, or prints derived from the look of such art, with black delineation and bold colors.

Ekagami (hand mirror)
Fujiwara (dates unknown)
Edo period (1600-1868)
146 (diameter) x 93 (handle) mm

Lotus Flowers
Artist Unknown
Nineteenth century
Lacquerware box
217 (l) x 114 (h) x 148 (w) mm

  (Inside of Tree Lacquerware box lid)

Artist Unknown
Nineteenth century
Lacquerware box, Lacquerware box lid
74 (l) x 30 (h) x 60 (w) mm

(Opposite side of metal and lacquer Inro)

Inro (box for storing tobacco)
Artist Unknown
Edo Period (1600-1868)
Metal and lacquer
85 x 55 x 18 mm
Gift of John Vinton Dahlgren

Mihonoseki Bay
Un'ichi Hiratsuka (1895-1997)
Woodblock print
99 x 126 mm

Un'ichi Hiratsuka lived in the Washington area from 1962 to 1994, teaching traditional Japanese woodcut printing techniques and completing a number of views of Georgetown and other local sites. His work will be featured in the exhibition of Washington Print Club Quarterly cover art, to be shown in the Fairchild Gallery in the fall of 2004.

Ueno Park, Tokyo
Un'ichi Hiratsuka
Woodblock print
68 x 137 mm
Gift of James W. Elder

(Opposite side of Shoji Hamada glazed stoneware bottle)

Glazed stoneware bottle
Shoji Hamada (1894-1978)
150 (h) x 117 (w) x 58 (d) mm

Shoji Hamada was known for his use of simple materials and basic designs, and had enormous international influence on potters, initially through his association with British ceramicist Bernard Leach (1887-1979). He was named a "Living National Treasure" by the government of Japan in 1955.

Samurai Sword
Samurai era (twelfth to nineteenth centuries)
Steel, wood, gold and fabric
915 mm long
Gift of J. B. Murray

This sword was given by the government of Japan to James Augustine Farrell (1863-1943; LLD'22), president of U.S. Steel, in gratitude for his assistance in providing emergency portable bridges during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. Farrell was the first benefactor of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, donating $20,000 to establish the School's Endowment Fund. He later served as a University Regent and an advisor to the faculty of the School of Foreign Service, and continued to make significant financial contributions to the University. Farrell received an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University in 1922. The sword was donated in 1960 by Farrell's son-in-law.

Scene from the Tale of Soga, c. 1843-47
Utagawa (Andô) Hiroshige (1797-1858)
Color woodblock print
356 x 252 mm

The seventeenth-century Tale of the Soga originated in the legends of two twelfth-century warrior brothers, and their pursuit of revenge of their father's murder.

Longevity, Length, Prosperity
Artist Unknown
c. Nineteenth century
Hand painted porcelain bowl
368 mm diameter

The words "longevity, length, prosperity" are inscribed inside this porcelain bowl.

Sunrise at Shimoda Beach
Narazaki Eisho (Fuyo) (1864-1936)
Color woodblock print
375 x 163 mm

Narazaki Eisho first learned copperplate printing from the Italian artist Edoardo Chiossone (1833-1898), who worked as the director of the Printing Bureau of the Ministry of Finance in Tokyo.

Self Portrait from Budapest
Masuo Ikeda (1934-1997)
Color lithograph
573 x 460 mm
Gift of James W. Elder

Masuo Ikeda had a strong international reputation, with shows at the Museum of Modern Art and a grand prize from the Venice Biennial. Self Portrait from Budapest is representative of Ikeda's work from these years, in which "[r]ealistically rendered surreal images are combined into a montage of dream visions" (George Kuyawama, Contemporary Japanese Prints, 1972).

Diary: June 9, 1969
Tetsuya Noda (b. 1940)
Woodblock and mixed media
415 x 447 mm
Gift of James W. Elder

Tetsuya Noda's work combines the long traditions of Japanese woodblock printing with the opportunities presented by contemporary screenprinting and photography. The Diary series continued for many years, beginning in the mid-1960s.

Tomoe Yokoi (b. 1942)
c. 1975
Color mezzotint
273 x 332 mm

Each example of a color mezzotint will be slightly different from others in the edition, because the colors are applied by hand to a single plate each time a print is run. Tomoe Yokoi is highly regarded internationally for her expert use of this difficult medium.

Apples, Oranges and Bottles
Kazuo Yamaguchi (b. 1949)
353 x 263 mm

Apples, Oranges and Bottles is an exquisite example of the difficult mezzotint technique, in which a roughened plate surface, which holds a greater amount of ink, is smoothed in areas that are to remain lighter in the final print, resulting in a range of half, or "mezzo" tones. Kazuo Yamaguchi has written that he strives to give "peace of mind and pleasure" to the viewer (see Web site

Trees by Sunlight
Kenji Ushiku (b. 1922)
Color etching
145 x 108 mm

For Kenji Ushiku, who is known usually for his large, bold, abstract etchings, these smaller and more delicate naturalistic renderings are regarded as an "alternate subject" (Frances Blakemore, Who's Who in Modern Japanese Prints, 1975).

Jesus and the Children
Sadao Watanabe (1913-1996)
Color woodcut
164 x 166 mm

Sadao Watanabe focused on Christian themes and imagery in his prints, which are made with separate paper stencils for each color, inspired by a long tradition of printing on fabric.

Toshi Yoshida (1911-1995)
Color woodblock print
495 x 370 mm

Toshi Yoshida's father, Hiroshi Yoshida, was one of the artists who revived traditional Japanese printmaking methods. Transcendance shows the younger artist's exploration of abstract styles.

Spiro Flower
Kyohei Inukai (1913-1985)
c. 1980
Color lithograph
564 x 769 mm

Spiro Flower is representative of Kyohei Inukai's well-known body of work featuring optical illusions.

73 hand-colored albumen prints in lacquerware album
Kimbei Kusakabe (1841-1934) and studio
c. 1880-99
shown: laquerware album cover
175 x 270 x 39 mm

Kimbei Kusakabe has been well known internationally since his lifetime for his vast output of "custom and costume" photographic images - scenes of people and places throughout Japan that appealed to foreign tourists and collectors. Artists in his studio would add watercolor highlights to his photographs, which would then be assembled in fine lacquer albums, such as the one shown here.

The assemblage of these photos in an accordion-style album makes it possible to show several at a time in this gallery. Color photographic reproductions of four from the reverse are included to augment the range of Kusakabe's subjects and skill: Samurai, Ancient Prince, Tea Picking, and Buddhist Priests.

H.J.M. The Empress of Japan
After Kuichi Uchida (1844-1875)
printed c. 1908
113 x 71 mm

Portrait of Empress Haruko, known posthumously as Shoken, "Seeing One Another," (1850-1914) Original albumen photograph 1872 and 1873.

H.J.M. The Mikado
After Kuichi Uchida (1844-1875)
printed c. 1908
113 x 71 mm

Portrait of Emperor Mutsuhito, known as Meiji, "Enlightened One," (b. 1852, reigned 1868-1912) Original albumen photograph 1872 and 1873.

Kuichi Uchida achieved early fame and commercial success among Japanese photographers, and received exclusive permission to make these official portraits of the imperial couple. He had studied with Hikoma Ueno (1838-1904), one of the first Japanese to learn about and pursue a career in photography.

Unauthorized copies of these portraits were distributed through the years. One of the possible sources of these copies shown here is Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz (1839-1911). Born in Bohemia, Stillfried was a painter who settled in Japan following his service as a military officer and diplomat. After opening his first photography studio in 1872, he later acquired the renowned studio of former photojournalist Felice Beato (1825-1903). His own acquaintance with the emperor began with a commission for the royal palace. Kimbei Kusakabe was one of Stillfried's, and Beato's, finest protégés, and heir to Stillfried's studio upon his retirement in 1883.

See Anne Wilkes Tucker, et al, The History of Japanese Photography, 2003. Ms. Tucker graciously provided explanation on the circumstances of copying these royal portraits for this exhibit. Terry Bennett offers a concise account of the difficulties in attribution of photographs from this era, with the frequent copying and studio exchanges taking place (Early Japanese Images, 1996). For additional information on Stillfried, see Chantal Edel's, introduction in Once Upon A Time: Visions of Old Japan / photographs by Felice Beato and Baron Raimund von Stillfried, and the words of Pierre Loti (1986). Clark Worswick wrote, “There is a direct causal link between the work of Beato, Stillfried, and Kusakabe which is the culmination of a cross-cultural view of Japan during this period” (Japan: Photographs 1854–1945, 1979, p. 106).

Cherry Blossom Rain
Helen Hyde (1868-1919)
Color woodcut
431 x 250 mm

Helen Hyde was born in San Francisco and studied art at the Art Students League in New York, and in Berlin and Paris. While in Paris she became inspired by the painter and illustrator Félix Régamey (1844-1907), who had visited Japan many times and was a devotee of its art and culture. When Hyde returned home in the mid 1890s after several years abroad, she produced a series of copperplate etchings based on the children of Chinatown. In 1899 she sailed for Japan intending to stay six months, and although she returned to the states for extended visits, she did not return permanently until fourteen years later, settling in Chicago where her sister lived.

Hyde began making woodcut prints in 1900, when she became acquainted with the artist Emil Orlik (1870-1932), a native of Prague who had recently moved to Tokyo. Recognizing the virtues of the Japanese division of labor, she employed an established wood carver and printer to help execute her designs. While in Japan, Hyde produced seventy-one color woodcut prints, and adopted the HH monogram and red clover chop mark that became her trademark signature.

The Branch (Moonrise)
B. J. O. Nordfeldt (1878-1955)
Color woodblock print
284 x 202 mm
Gift of Anonymous Donor

The Swedish-born Bror J. Olsson-Nordfeldt was initiated into the cult of Japonisme through his French mentors Auguste Lepère (1849-1918) and Henri Rivière (1864-1951). He settled in Chicago in 1903 and for the next four years created fifteen color woodcuts, which he laboriously designed, carved and printed himself (in editions of around 250). This print is dated 1906, the year when Frank Lloyd Wright's collection of landscape prints by Utagawa (Andô) Hiroshige was exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the first-ever museum exhibition of this Japanese master's work.

Kurobe River, from Twelve Scenes in Japan
Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950)
Color woodblock print
374 x 252 mm

Hiroshi Yoshida was one of the artists who revived traditional Japanese printmaking methods in the twentieth century. His son, Toshi Yoshida, also worked as a printmaker, in both traditional and abstract styles, the latter of which is represented in this exhibit.

The Resting Place - Scutari
Mokuchu Yoshijuro Urushibara (1888-1953)
Color woodblock print
169 x 214 mm

Scutari is a Turkish town on the eastern shore of the Straits of Bosphorus, opposite Istanbul. The town is best known for its large and beautiful cemetery, which extends across three miles of undulating plain. Mokuchu Yoshijuro Urushibara lived in Britain and France from 1907 to 1934, teaching and collaborating with a number of artists.

Kambara, yoru no yuki (Night Snow at Kambara)
Utagawa (Andô) Hiroshige (1797-1858)
Color woodblock print, second state
290 x 435 mm

Landscape scenes became common in the later years of the development of Ukiyo-e, "images of the floating (or transient) world," which were produced in great numbers for the enjoyment of the middle classes. Tôkaidô, which inspired the series from which Night Snow at Kambara was taken, was the road between Tokyo, the seat of administrative power, and Kyoto, the seat of imperial power. Hiroshige was influenced by Western artistic techniques of perspective and naturalism, as well as by Chinese painting, and was famous for his landscape views based on his travels - he was known as the "Poet of Travel." (Muneshige Narazaki, Hiroshige: Famous Views, 1968). Hiroshige in turn had significant influence on Western art, through James Whistler and others (Edward F. Strange, Hiroshige's Woodblock Prints, 1983). About Night Snow at Kambara, it has been said, "With this print Hiroshige has attained a pinnacle of his art: it is not only the finest of all the Tôkaidô series but among the very best of his entire work." (Muneshige Narazaki, Hiroshige: The 53 Stations of the Tôkaidô, 1969). Included in the exhibit is a reproduction of the work on the cover of the novel Snow Countryby Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972), Japan's first Nobel laureate in literature. Also shown is a brochure from the exhibit Hiroshige at the Chester Beatty Library (Dublin: The RHA Gallagher Gallery, Ely Place; 13 July–22 August 1993).

"Festival" Kingoro (the kabuki actor Kingoro dancing the dance called Omatsuri "festival")
Utagawa Kunisada I, also known as Toyokuni III (1786-1864)
Color woodblock print
356 x 255 mm

Utagawa Kunisada I was an apprentice in the studio of Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825), one of the early artists of popular prints of actors and the theatre. Kunisada was a friend of Utagawa (Andô) Hiroshige, who is represented by two prints in this exhibit.

Man with a Monkey; Go Players; Buddha
Three Netsuke (late nineteenth century)
painted ivory
50 mm or less (each)

Gift of Hugh K. Long Netsuke are carved toggles, usually made of ivory or wood, used to attach hanging objects such as tobacco pouches to the sash of a man's kimono. There are holes in the bottom of each of these netsuke to allow passage of silken cords or ropes. Netsuke fell out of use after 1926 when western clothing styles replaced the traditional Japanese kimono.

Servante, from Japanese People and Places
Georges Ferdinand Bigot (1860-1927)
c. 1886-89
Etching and drypoint
284 x 203 mm

Gift of John Rackham Georges Ferdinand Bigot studied with the masters of the academic art tradition Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) and Carolus-Duran (1837-1917) at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, and studied etching under Félix Buhot (1847–1898). He worked as an illustrator, contributing to the popular journal La Vie Moderne as well as a book entitled L'Art Japonais by Louis Gonse (Paris, 1883) among others. Fascinated with Japan and its new accessibility to the West, he secured a position for himself as a teacher of drawing and French and moved there in 1881. This etching belongs to a series he did in 1886 entitled Croquis japonais (Japanese sketches) an album of twenty-nine etchings depicting Japanese life and customs. He returned to Paris in 1899 and continued an active career as engraver, illustrator and poster artist, in a style consistently rooted in Japanese art forms.

Shown for comparison in the exhibit is a reproduction of Kimbei Kusakabe, Rear View of Japanese Woman, 1880s; from Clark Worswick, Japan: Photographs 1854–1945 (New York: Pennwick/Alfred A. Knopf, 1979).

Mademoiselle Coutine
Tsuguharu Foujita, also known as Léonard-Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968)
c. 1965
Color lithograph
372 x 281 mm
Gift of John Rackham

Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita was descended from a Samurai family and graduated from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in 1910. He came to Paris three years later at the age of 27, moving into the fashionable artists quarter of Montparnasse, where he met and befriended a number of the up-and-coming international expatriate artists. Through the Chilean painter Ortiz de Zarate he was introduced to Picasso, whose collection of paintings by Henri (Le Douanier) Rousseau (1844-1910) had a major impact on the young Foujita. Critics have often described his paintings as "primitive," a quality one also finds in the works of Rousseau. Foujita exhibited with the international group of artists known as the School of Paris, and became a permanent member of the more established Salon d'Automne in 1920. He returned to Japan in 1933 and remained there during the second World War, teaching at the Imperial Art Academy and working for the Army and Navy Ministries depicting war zones in China and South-East Asia. Foujita emigrated to Paris in 1950 and became a French citizen five years later. He also converted to Catholicism and adopted the name Léonard at that time. Toward the end of his career he illustrated a number of books and devoted his energy to the building and interior decoration of the chapel of Nôtre Dame de la Paix in the town of Reims.

Japanese Wood-Block Prints: the picture book of printing process
Tokushi Katsuhira (1904-1971)
Album of color woodblock prints
each plate 139 x 93 mm

Tokushi Katsuhira was a respected woodblock artist from Akita.


The Georgetown University Art Collection is grateful to the following persons for providing their expertise in the preparation of this exhibition:

Lawrence Marceau, Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Delaware, for translations and several attributions.

Anne Wilkes Tucker, the Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, for assistance with the Imperial portraits.

The following persons are acknowledged for their support for and assistance with this exhibit:
University Librarian Artemis G. Kirk; Associate University Librarian for Special Collections Marty Barringer; Curator Emeritus of Prints The Reverend Joseph A. Haller, S.J.; University Archivist Lynn Conway; Graphic Artist/Photographer David Hagen, of the Gelardin New Media Center; Development Assistant Stephanie S. Hughes; Special Events Manager Caroline W. Griswold.

Curator: LuLen Walker, Art Collection Coordinator
Graphics, Web Site, Research: David C. Alan, Art Technician

Matting by Frames By Rebecca; Silver Spring, Maryland.