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Chinese Paintings in the Edo Period

Chinese Paintings in the Edo Period
Honkan Room T1 & T2   May 14, 2013 (Tue) - June 16, 2013 (Sun)

  
Solitary Angler on a Wintry River (detail), Attributed to Ma Yuan, Southern Song dynasty, 13th century (Important Cultural Property)

Except for China, Japan preserves the most Chinese paintings in the world. This is because, during a thousand-year period of exchange with China, Japanese people have cherished and carefully passed on Chinese paintings. With a focus on the Edo period, this exhibition shows how treasured Chinese paintings (which were known as kara-e at the time), have been preserved.

There are four existing copies of the painting Solitary Angler on a Wintry River by Ma Yuan, which was fully restored last year. The copies were made by successive generations of Kano school painters. The original is wrapped in beautiful sarasa chintz and stored in a three-ply wooden box, which is a preservation method characteristic to Japan and not found in China. From these facts, it is clear how carefully our predecessors in Japan treated this work. It also shows how, over a long period of time, even masterpieces created in China gradually became a part of Japanese culture.

As the storage boxes and wrappings for paintings are not normally exhibited, most of them are on display here for the first time. This exhibition also features written evaluations of paintings, which reveal how Japanese people researched Chinese paintings in the Edo period.

In January of this year, the Toyokan (Asian Gallery) reopened after refurbishment. As with the museum’s collection of Chinese paintings, the Toyokan’s collection of Asian art is also owing to the activities of generations of Japanese people like those mentioned above. Visitors will hopefully sense that these collections are not just random series of acquirements. Through the activities of our predecessors, new understandings of Chinese painting will surely emerge.

Major works in this exhibition
* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
Solitary Angler on a Wintry River, Attributed to Ma Yuan, Southern Song dynasty, 13th century (Important Cultural Property)
Solitary Angler on a Wintry River (Copy), Copied by Kano Seisen'in (Osanobu), Edo period, 19th century; original attributed to Ma Yuan, Southern Song dynasty, 13th century
Solitary Angler on a Wintry River (Copy), Artist unknown, Edo period, 19th century; original attributed to Ma Yuan, Southern Song dynasty, 13th century
Bamboo, By Guan Daosheng, Yuan dynasty, 14th century
Bamboo (Copy), Copied by Kano Yosen'in (Korenobu), Edo period, 18th century; original by Guan Daosheng, Yuan dynasty, 14th century
Landscape, Inscription by Du Guandao, Ming dynasty, 14th century (Important Cultural Property)
Bamboo, Attributed to Zhao Mengfu, Yuan dynasty, 14th century
Bamboo (Copy), Copied by Kano Seisen'in (Osanobu), Edo period, 19th century; original attributed to Zhao Mengfu, Yuan dynasty, 14th century
Landscape, By Li Zai, China, Ming dynasty, 15th century (Important Cultural Property)
Auspicious Elements in Nature, By Tani Buncho, Edo period, 19th century
Flowering Plants, By Wang Wu, Qing dynasty, 17th century
Record of Chinese Calligraphy and Paintings, Vol.1, Compiled by Asano Baido, Edo period, dated 1856
Record of Paintings of the Yuan Dynasty, Compiled by Suikei Rojin, Edo period, dated 1821 (Gift of Mr. Tokugawa Muneyoshi)
Biographical Sketches of Famous Calligraphers and Painters of the Qing Dynasty, Compiled by Soma Kyuho, Edo period, dated 1848

 

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