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140th Anniversary Thematic Exhibitions: Donated Works from Imperial Household Artists in the First Year of the Taisho Era (1912)

  • Image of "Large White Porcelain Vase, Magic mushroom design in relief, By Seifu Yohei lll, 1912 (Gift of the artist)"

    Large White Porcelain Vase, Magic mushroom design in relief, By Seifu Yohei lll, 1912 (Gift of the artist)

    Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 18 & 19
    September 19, 2012 (Wed) - December 9, 2012 (Sun)

    One hundred years ago, in December of the first year of the Taisho era (1912), 31 artworks by 24 Imperial Household Artists were donated to the Tokyo Imperial Household Museum (present-day Tokyo National Museum). These works came from 22 Imperial Household Artists who submitted donation applications in 1911 to the then Director General, Matano Migaku, as well as from the families of 2 Imperial Household Artists who wished to do the same but had died the year before.

    Imperial Household Artists were appointed in the fine or decorative arts under an honors system existing before World War II. The title of Imperial Household Artist was used from 1890, although previously it had been “Artisans to the Imperial Household Ministry” and then “Artists to the Imperial Household Ministry.” Until the final appointments in 1944, a total of 79 artists were selected.

    This system was closely connected to this museum, which from 1886 was part of the Imperial Household Ministry. According to selection regulations for Imperial Household Artists in 1918, artists were chosen by a committee convened by the Director General of the Imperial Household Museum, who then recommended the artists to the Minister of the Imperial Household.

    The works donated in 1912 were in the genres of Japanese painting, sculpture, architecture, metalwork, ceramics, cloisonné, lacquerware, textiles, swords, and design, as well as in two new genres selected the year before, photography and Western painting. This meant that the donated works included all genres covered by the Imperial Household Artist system, except for seal engraving.

    The year after the donation, a special exhibition was held, titled Donated Works of Imperial Household Artists and Works of Late Imperial Household Artists. This exhibition is the first time these objects have been displayed together for 99 years.


Major works in this exhibition
* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
Old tree and birds,  By Kawabata Gyokusho, 1912 (Gift of the artist)
Flowers in vase,  By Kuroda Seiki, 1912 (Gift of the artist)
Two-fold Screen, With cloisonné plaques, By Namikawa Sousuke, 1890 (Gift of the family of the artist)
Wild Boar, By Ishikawa Komei, 1912 (Gift of the artist)
Process of Multicolor Woodblock Printing using Collotype Prints, By Ogawa Kazumasa, 1912 (Gift of the artist)

Related Events

Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 20  September 21, 2012 (Fri)   14:00 - 14:30   RESERVE_DAY
September 15, 2012 (Sat) - September 30, 2012 (Sun)   9:30 - 17:00 (Last entry 30 minutes before closing)
Open until 22:00 on September 21 (Sat).
Open until 18:00 on Saturdays, Sundays and National Holidays.   
Japanese Archaeology and Special Exhibition (Heiseikan) Auditorium  November 17, 2012 (Sat)   13:30 - 15:00   RESERVE_DAY