Introspection and Awakening:

Japanese Art of the Edo and Meiji Periods, 1615-1912
June 23 – October 21, 2012
Preview Lecture and Reception: August 30, 2012


Curated by Lowe Art Museum Director and Chief Curator, Brian A. Dursum, this exhibition features over 200 paintings, sculpture, prints, ceramics, and lacquer objects from the seventeenth through the early twentieth century, drawn entirely from the permanent collection of the Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami. Interactions with Europe, China, and Korea left their mark on Japan, influencing its social, political, industrial, and cultural framework, and directly impacting its artistic production. Europeans first arrived in Japan in the early seventeenth century and are represented in artwork of the time period. The Chinese specifically influenced the development of the tea ceremony in Japan as well as the development of the literati or Nanga painting style, while Korean influence was felt in the development of the porcelain industry.

Like China, Japan developed a society in which artisans founded schools with disciples who followed their beliefs and adopted their family name. This is the case with the Utagawa School of printmakers as well as with many of the Nanga artists. Both printmakers and painters formed fast friendships with some of their contemporaries with whom they might exchange works of art.

Introspection and Awakening also features some early examples from various painting schools including the official Kano school, which produced large scale works including decorative screens for the various palaces of the shogun and feudal lords (daimyo) of the time. Also included in the exhibition are the more popular schools such as Nanga, Rimpa, Ukiyo-e, and Zenga, which was popular with the both the samurai and the rising middle classes. A selection of over 75 woodblock prints trace the development of this art form from the early works of Harunobu and Toyokuni to the growth of the Utagawa School, which dominated in the nineteenth century.

The Japanese lifestyle and belief structure is reflected in all its artistic forms during these periods. This lifestyle is best represented in woodblock prints, which capture famous Kabuki actors, life in the Yoshiwara entertainment district, wrestling matches, views of daily life, and spiritual beliefs.

While the Japanese always had an artistically advanced pottery industry, which produced wares primarily for domestic consumption, development of a porcelain industry in the first quarter of the seventeenth century allowed Japanese potters to produce porcelains for the international market for the first time. Many of these ceramics were made for the Dutch and South Asian trade, and depictions of Europeans were produced as early as the seventeenth century in a variety of media, including woodblock prints, paintings, screens, lacquer, and netsuke.

The arrival of Admiral Perry in 1854 startled the Japanese into the realization of how vulnerable they had become. This ultimately lead to the end of Japan’s more inward or introspective Edo Period and the arrival of Meiji Period, which promoted self-strengthening, learning from the foreigners to beat them at their own game and reverse the unequal treaties signed with the West, which initially forced Japan to open itself to the outside world.

Introspection and Awakening: Japanese Art of the Edo and Meiji Periods, 1615-1912 is curated by Brian A. Dursum, Director and Chief Curator, Lowe Art Museum.  Dr. Daniel McKee, Japanese Studies Bibliographer, Cornell University, is both a catalogue contributor and contributing author.  Other contributors to the project include Koichi Tasa, Archivist at the Otto G. Richter Library, University of Miami; Dr. Stephen R. Halsey, Department of History, University of Miami; Dr. Sayumi Harb, Department of East Asian Languages and Culture, Connecticut College; and Dr. Chang Qing.

Funding for the exhibition is generously provided by Beaux Arts, Friends of Arts, and the membership of the Lowe Art Museum.  Additional funding is provided by the Linnie E. Dalbeck Memorial Endowment Trust, The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Stella M. Holmes, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, and the Miami-Dade Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.  The Members Fall Celebration is sponsored by SunTrust Bank.  Lectures are sponsored by the Werner and Marie Stiefel Family Endowment and the Fedor Family Endowment.

Image Captions:

(top) Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), Japan, 1786-1865,Picking Bamboo Shoots at Shimoyashiki, 1843-1846, woodcut, Museum purchase through funds from Beaux Arts, 2009.8.1

(bottom) Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), Japan, 1786-1865,Sawamura Tosho II as Enya Hangan Takasada in the Play Kanadehon Chushingura, 1859, woodcut, Museum purchase through funds from an Anonymous Donor, 2009.9.5

Unknown Artist, Japan, Edo Period

Narihira with Two Attending Courtiers on a Veranda from The Tale of Ise, late 17th century
gouache and gilding on mulberry paper
Gift of Denise and Jeffrey Figiel, 98.0042.07

attributed to Ogata Korin, Japan, 1658-1716

Box [Bako], late 17th or early 18th century
wood, lacquer, mother of pearl and pewter
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Kurstin, 90.0252

Unknown Artist, Japan, Edo Period

Netsuke: Horse, 17th century
ivory and stain
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Kurstin, 95.0033.14

Unknown Artist, Japan, Meiji Period

Kwanon, White-Moon Guan-yin Bodhisattva, ca. 1870
pottery (bizen yaki)
Museum purchase through funds from the Thea Katzenstein Art Acquisition Endowment Fund and the Larue S. Storm Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2010.28

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