The 10th Society for the Study of Japonisme Young Researcher’s Award

Recipient: Helena
Čapková, Bedojifu Foierushutain to Nihon [Bedřich Feuerstein and Japan], translated from Czech by ABE Ken’ichi, Seibunsha, 2021.

Reasons for Award

Centered on the Czech architect and stage designer Bedřich Feuerstein (1892–1936), this book traces the human as well as design dialogue between the Japanese and the Czech during the interwar period by exploring a vast number of documents. The study adds a new dimension to the Japonisme studies by revealing not only Feuerstein’s previously little-known activities and works but also the lineage of the Czech architects to which he belonged, illuminating the close cultural exchange between Czechoslovakia and Japan. A critical biography of Feuerstein as well as a study of the human network between the two countries during the interwar period, this work was deemed worthy of the Society for the Study of Japonisme Young Researcher’s Prize.
Most of the eleven chapters address Feuerstein’s activities and works as an architect, discussing the role he played in the modernization and internationalization of Japanese architecture. Chapters 5 through 7 in particular are dedicated to buildings for which he was the chief designer at Antonin Raymond’s firm, including St. Luke’s International Hospital, the USSR Embassy, and the Rising Sun Petroleum Company. While Čapková describes the construction process of these buildings in a highly interesting way, her analysis of the architectural plan and design would have benefitted from including more details. The rise of multiple modernisms and their crossbreeding in various parts of the world during the 1920s and 1930s are well-studied subjects, and we know by now that such hybrids cannot be fit into neat geographical categorizations like “Japanese Modernism” and “Czech Modernism.” A transnational study with a broader perspective would associate Feuerstein with his contemporaries in Germany (Bauhaus), France (Auguste Perret, Le Corbusier), and even Austria (Neutra and Schindler, whom TSUCHIURA Kameki met in the United States). We look forward to future developments.
As a translation from the Czech language, this book is valuable. However, as is often the case with translations, issues remain, albeit partial, in the clarity of the text and the transliteration of proper names. In addition, as is sometimes observed in the scholarship of researchers whose first language is not Japanese, the author could have examined Japanese-language documents and existing studies more thoroughly, and this could have increased the amount and accuracy of information provided in the book.
While there are areas for improvement, this book is of irreplaceable merit in its vivid description of Czech architects’ activities during the formative years of architectural modernism in Japan. Also important is how they perceived Japanese architecture and culture, and the documents at the end of the book, including Feuerstein’s “On Japanese Architecture,” will be a valuable reference for Japonisme studies in the future.

(The Committee on the Society for the Study of Japonisme Young Researcher’s Award)


Profile for

Helena Čapková


2006: Graduated as Master of Arts from School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London), Art and Archaeology Dept. (Japanese and Chinese Art)
2008: Graduated as Master of Arts from Charles University in Prague, Institute of Art History and Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Mgr. Program in Japanese Studies and Art History
2012: Graduated as Ph.D from TrAIN Research Centre [Transnational Art Identity and Nation],University of the Arts London, UK, PhD Program in Transnational Visual Art Studies (AHRC scholarship student)

Current position

Associate Professor at Ritsumeikan University, College of Global Liberal Arts

Main achievements

Bedřich Feuerstein, architect. Prague – Paris – Tokyo, National Technical Museum, English and Czech version, exhibition catalogue, Prague, 2022.

1920–2020 PRAGUE–TOKYO / EXCHANGES, PARALLES, COMMON VISIONS, Jaroslav Fragner Gallery, Prague, 2021,

Architekt Bedřich Feuerstein – Cesta do nejvýtvarnější země světa (Architect Bedřich Feuerstein – A Journey to Japan), in Czech with English and Japanese summary, Aula and KANT publishers, Prague, 2014. The Japanese version 『ベドジフ・フォイエルシュタインと日本』was published Seibunsha, Tokyo, 2021.

Laboratory of Czech Book Design 1920s–1930s From the collection of Nakanoshima Museum of Art, Osaka/ 『キ ュレトリアル・スタディズ13: チェコ・ブックデザインの実験場 1920s–1930s 大阪中之島美術館のコレクションより』, Museum of Modern Art Kyoto, Kyoto, 2020.

『日本におけるアントニンレーモンド (1948~1976) 知人たちの回想』/Antonín Raymond v Japonsku (1948–1976) Vzpomínky Přátel, edited with Koichi Kitazawa, Aula, Prague, 2019.

“Framing Renshichirō Kawakita’s Transcultural Legacy and His Pedagogy,” In: Marion von Osten and Grant Watson eds, bauhaus imaginista A School in the World, Thames&Hudson, London and New York, 2019.



The 9th Society for the Study of Japonisme Young Researcher’s Award

Recipient: KUGIMIYA Takako, “Austro-German Japonisme in Music from the 1890s to the 1910s,” doctoral thesis, Nagoya University, 2020.

Reasons for Award

In this dissertation, submitted to the Graduate School of Languages and Cultures, Nagoya University, KUGIMIYA Takako gathers and examines in great detail instrumental and vocal music published in Germany and Austria based on translations of traditional Japanese poetry. Such music also relied on various materials and documents on Japanese music brought back by musicians and literary scholars who traveled to Japan mainly as “oyatoi gaikokujin” (foreign government advisors) between the 1890s and the 1910s. The author’s description is solid and crisp, her compilation and careful analysis of musical scores rich and convincing. The list of “German lyrics and songs based on traditional Japanese poetry” at the end of the volume is a valuable document.

Chapter One follows Rudolf Dittrich, a professor who came to Japan at the invitation of the Tokyo School of Music. During his sojourn from 1888 to 1894, Dittrich worked to propagate Western music while taking interest in traditional Japanese music. Later this interest led to publication in his home country of studies on Japanese music and scores of harmonized Japanese melodies. Kugimiya’s account is an informative exercise in the cross-cultural studies. There were other attempts at adding Western harmony to Japanese songs, for example in Shōgakkō shōka, a selection of newly composed primary school songs edited by ISAWA Shūji in an effort to modernize music education in Japan. These, however, can hardly qualify as success, primarily because the songs themselves were rather strained concoctions of Japanese and Western styles. In them one finds the same conflict as experienced by a composer like Dittrich, still in thrall to the classical framework traditionally maintained in music in the German-speaking countries, when he encountered a different musical system. Dissonances triggered by contact between different cultures and the difficulty of mutual understanding are topics which the subsequent chapter elaborates.

Chapter Two presents and examines the harmonization of Shōgakkō shōka by Georg Capellen, a composer in Germany, who learned of Isawa’s compilation from German-born linguist Lange, a lecturer at the Tokyo Imperial University. Kugimiya describes the way various individuals, feeling increasingly constrained by the idiom of Western music, looked to a different cultural sphere for inspiration. Even though Capellen’s attempt to apply Western harmony to the Oriental tonal system was not exactly a success, this chapter offers an interesting development of the previous chapter’s discussion, presenting a panorama of the period’s comparative musical theories and critique from fellow composers. In this connection, the author also raises the question of how we are to assess Isawa Shūji’s project of “modernizing Japanese music.”

Chapter Three gathers the translations of Japanese poetry by Karl Florenz, a lecturer at the Tokyo Imperial University, as well as collections of songs by German-speaking composers using those translations as lyrics. Kugimiya sensitively describes the characteristics of Florenz’s translations. Of particular importance is her presentation of poet Bethge, who learned a great deal from Florenz’s writings to pen his own works Chinese Flute and Japanese Spring, and composer Egon Wellesz, who adapted Bethge’s poems into songs. A consideration of the contemporaneous background of such interest in Japan in the German-speaking countries from the 1900s onward would lend further depth to this dissertation’s treatment of Japonisme.

We look forward to the future development of the author, who has advanced Japonisme studies by exploring its manifestation in German music.

Recipient: Saskia THOELEN, “Globalisation and Strategic Change through Art Promotion during the Art Nouveau Period in Japan. Mitsukoshi’s Departmentisation Process Analysed through its Kimono Fashioning Activities,” doctoral thesis, Bunka Gakuen University, 2020. 

Reasons for Award

The dissertation mines an extensive corpus of period documents to trace the process in which Mitsukoshi, originally a time-honored kimono fabrics store established during the Edo era, adopted and developed a form of retailing that had emerged in various countries in the West about half a century earlier and was on a meteoric rise at the time: department store. The author put a great emphasis on the fact that Mitsukoshi did not carry out its “departmentisation” as a passive emulator of the Western system, but with agency as defined by Anthony Giddens and others, that is, as an active, independent subject responding to the specific context of Japan. From this perspective, the relationship that Mitsukoshi entertained with its two exemplars, Wanamaker’s and Harrods, is examined in great detail as an “identity narrative.” Furthermore, aside from its character as a fact-based historical study, the dissertation also conducts a rigorous discursive analysis on materials including Mitsukoshi’s advertisement published to assert its identity as a department store (by contrast, the author’s visual analysis, built upon KUKI Shūzo’s The Structure of iki, does not always strike as convincingly valid).

It is Chapter Two on the reflux of Japonisme that the Selection Committee appreciated as particularly worthy of the Young Researcher’s Award. Rising in the middle of the nineteenth century, Japonisme flowed into Art Nouveau at the end of the century. In the meantime, ASAI Chū and others, inspired by Japonisme they witnessed on the spot at the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition that marked its zenith, moved to adapt and develop the phenomenon in Japan. This for instance quickly led to a reevaluation of Kōrin in Japan, who had greatly influenced art and craft in the West. While the work of Asai and KAMISAKA Sekka are widely recognized examples of such reflux of Japonisme, the rest of it remained understudied. Addressing the Mitsukoshi’s “departmentisation,” the present dissertation reveals a previously unknown set of interesting cases in concrete details.

In the process of its transformation into a department store, Mitsukoshi did not position products of the modern West as its most important goods. Instead, it was to kimono, the staple of its business since the Edo period, that Mitsukoshi accorded that status, adopting designs from Kōrin, who influenced the West in the context of Japonisme, and boldly modernizing them according to Japanese esthetic. Part of this effort was outsourced to prominent designers and painters including HASHIGUCHI Goyō and OKADA Saburōsuke. Japonisme in the West was itself widely practiced across the domains closely related to everyday life. Le Japon artistique, for instance, reported how in Japan even great artists like Kōrin worked in applied arts including kimono and furniture, and its publisher, Samuel Bing, actually commissioned from painters designs for stained glass and craft objects. Mitsukoshi can thus be seen as having fostered the reflux of Japonisme in this precise sense.

If there are some improvements to make in view of publication as a book, this dissertation, written in Japanese by an author from Belgium, is lucid and readable, even in its highly abstract and theoretical passages. On top of this multi-focal dissertation, at once fact-based historical study and theoretical discourse on culture, the postface tells us that the author designs kimono, practices katazome (stencil dyeing of fabrics) and dresses frequently in kimono. We greatly look forward to the future of this versatile scholar.

(The Committee on the Society for the Study of Japonisme Young Researcher’s Award)

(Translated by KONDO Gaku)


Profile for



B.A., Ochanomizu University, Tokyo, Japan, 1986.

M.A., Ochanomizu University, Tokyo, Japan, 1988.

M.A., Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan, 2014.

Doctor of Philosophy, PhD, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan, 2020.

Current positions:

Doctoral Research Fellow in Nagoya University Graduate School of Humanities.

Collaborative Researcher in Tokyo College of Music.

Visiting Researcher in Waseda Institute for Research in Opera and Music Theatre (WIROM), Comprehensive Research Organization, Waseda University.

Part-Time Lecturer in Tokushima Bunri University.

Main achievements

Japonisme in Austro-German Music from the 1880s to the 1900s: Music Inspired by Japanese Melodies and Poems, Studies in Japonisme, 40: 73-86, 2021.

Austro-German Japonisme in Music from the 1890s to the 1910s, Nagoya University Doctoral Dissertation, 2020.

Japanese Songs for Schoolchildren in Early 20th-Century Germany: Focusing on R. Lange’s Translation and G. Capellen’s Arrangement for Isawa Shuji’s Shogaku Shoka Vol.1, Japanese Journal of Music Education Research, 47-2: 37-48, 2018.

Rudolf Dittrich’s Study on Japanese Music: Understanding of Japanese music by Westerners in the 20s and 30s of the Meiji era, Multicultural Studies, 17: 1-12, 2017.

Ego and Tonality in Mozart’s “Opera Così fan tutte”, Composer in Residence 2015/16 Opera: yesterday, today, tomorrow, 27-37, 2016.


Profile for



2013: Graduated as Bachelor of Arts from KU Leuven, Faculty of Letters: Area Studies: Japanology

2013: Completed a one year exchange program as recommendation scholarship student at Shinshu University (Matsumoto), Japanese Language and Culture Program

2014: Graduated as Master of Arts from KU Leuven, Graduate School of Letters: Area Studies: Japanology

2015: Graduated as Teacher from KU Leuven, Graduate School of Letters: Specific Teaching Course: Area Studies: Japanology

2017: Graduated as Master in the Arts from Bunka Gakuen University, Graduate School of Fashion and Living Environment Studies: Clothing Science: Global Fashion Concentration. (MEXT scholarship student)

2020: Graduated as Ph.D from Bunka Gakuen University, Graduate School of Fashion and Living Environment Studies: Science of Clothing Environment: Fashion Culture Theory (MEXT scholarship student)

Current position

Assistant Professor at Bunka Gakuen University, Graduate School of Fashion and Living Environment Studies

Main achievements

“Mitsukoshi’s Creation of the “Contemporary Kimono” and the Influence of Art Nouveau: from East-West Eclecticism to Fashion Item.” the Journal of the Society of the Aesthetics of Costume 64 (April 2018): 55-74. (In Japanese).

“Legitimizing the Contemporary Kimono in the Era of Art Nouveau — An Analysis of Mitsukoshi’s Promotional Discourse—.” Fashion Theory 24 no. 5 (2020),

TAKAGI Yoko, and Saskia THOELEN. “Kimono Migrating Across Borders: A Preliminary Study into the Discovery of Wasō Culture Outside of Japan.” In: Takagi Yoko, Sarah Cheang, Erica de Greef (Eds.). Rethinking Fashion Globalization: Fashion De-Globalization and Decolonial Interpretation. London: Bloomsbury, August 2021.

“Trans-boundary Wasō Culture on the East Coast: Analysing Community Development through Narratives.” In Transboundary Fashion Studies, edited by Takagi Yoko and Koma Kyoko, 35-54. Nakanishiya, forthcoming. (In Japanese).

“Considering Narrative Analysis Based Kimono Research: a Case Study.” the Journal of the Society of the Aesthetics of Costume 68, forthcoming. (In Japanese).



The 41st Society for the Study of Japonisme Award

Recipient: Jean-Sébastien Cluzel, ed., Le Japonisme architectural en France 1550–1930, Dijon, Editions Faton, 2018.


Reasons for Award

Entitled Architectural Japonisme in France from 1550 to 1930, this is an impressive collection of essays by a diverse range of scholars, organized around the editor Jean-Sébastien Cluzel’s contributions. In principle, the Society for the Study of Japonisme Award is intended for the work of a single author. The Selection Committee, however, had no hesitation in considering this book as Cluzel’s, for it is evident that in addition to writing multiple articles, he made a very important effort as the volume editor to make it comprehensive and coherent.

The scholarship on architectural Japonisme has been dominated by discussions of Japanese influence on the likes of Mackintosh, Le Corbusier, Bruno Taut, and Frank Lloyd Wright. This book, however, does not speak much of that particular subject. Indeed, most of the buildings addressed by Cluzel here are not by French architects, but for instance houses actually brought in from Japan. Also considered are the Japanese spaces in a wide sense, such as gardens, interior design and stage set. To quote just a few examples under examination here: architecture depicted in screens, lacquerware and ceramics imported from Japan; mock-ups made in Japan probably as toys; the Japanese pavilion at the Paris Universal Exposition; the Oriental Pagoda Alexandre Marcel designed toward the end of nineteenth century; the Tour du Monde Pavilion at the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition; the reconstruction of a room in the Nishi Hongan-ji temple and its interior decoration, shown at the 1910 Japan-British Exhibition and still preserved in Lyons (Salon des grues [Storks Room]); and the Japanese houses that banker Albert Kahn, who visited Japan three times, had built on the premises of his residence in Boulogne-Billancourt. These last especially are described in great detail, for Cluzel himself took part in the research and restoration.

Refraining from bold hypotheses, interpretations and aesthetic discussions, this book factually describes the buildings and gardens that existed or still exist, based on hard evidence like design contract. Such approach, not unlike what museum curators do with their collection, makes for a structure that illuminates the broad evolution of French Japoniste architecture with exactitude and in depth from multiple perspectives. Arguably, the idea the French people of the era could form of Japanese architecture was shaped by just the kind of diverse objects under discussion here. The thorough positivism that this book demonstrates in the description of these, then, will be a crucial foundation for future thinking on architectural Japonisme. It is a valuable contribution of unprecedented comprehensiveness.

The sole complaint one might make concerns the insufficient treatment of the period discourse in France on the buildings in question. Such consideration would reveal how the French responded to them, an avenue of investigation we hope Cluzel to pursue in the future. Urging to reexamine the history of Japonisme in France from the viewpoint of architecture, this volume presents the fruit of an innovative scholarship. We thus deem it fully worthy of the Society for the Study of Japonisme Award.

(The Committee on the Society for the Study of Japonisme Award)

Translated by Kondō Gaku



The 7th Society for the Study of Japonisme Young Researcher’s Award

Recipient: Nomura Yuko, Japanese Modern Art and Germany: About the Magazines “Subaru,” “Shirakaba” and “Tsukuhae,” Kyushu Daigaku Shuppankai, 2019.


Reasons for Award

Nomura Yuko’s Japanese Modern Art and Germany: About the Magazines “Subaru,” “Shirakaba” and “Tsukuhae” is the winner of this year’s Society for the Study of Japonisme Young Researcher’s Award. The book is a revised version of the author’s doctoral dissertation, submitted to Graduate School of Humanities, Kyushu University. Highly sound in its argument, this is an inspiring work, even though the title, too broad despite the subtitle, gives cause for slight concern. For this is not a book about “Japanese modern art and Germany,” nor does it aim to be a study in Japonisme in the accepted sense of the term. The Society for the Study of Japonisme, however, regards it crucial to its mission to foster diversity of perspectives in tracing the rich artistic exchanges between Japan and the West. Given this philosophy, various facets of East/West aesthetic exchange Nomura brings to light make for an interesting object of research.

Literary magazines with physicians-writers proficient in German such as Mori Ōgai and Kinoshita Mokutarō at the helm began early to introduce progressive treatises on modern painting by Richard Muther, Julius Meier-Graefe and others to Japan. Takamura Kōtaro, following his return from a study abroad in the United States, Britain and France, contributed an avant-garde, subjective discussion of art, shot through with German words, “Green Sun,” to the review Subaru. Takamura inspired Mushanokōji Saneatsu to celebrate Van Gogh and incited Kishida Ryūsei and others to form the artistic circles Pan-no-Kai and Fyūzan-kai. After his musical study in Berlin, Yamada Kōsaku mounted, by request from the protagonists of various artistic movements in the German capital, an exhibition of Der Strum woodcuts in Hibiya. With hand-printed works by Kirchner, Kandinsky, Marc and others, the show presented tendencies toward Futurism, abstract painting and Expressionism. In a cultural environment where Jugend, the Munich Secession’s organ, and similar periodicals were imported in a quick succession, Onchi Kōshirō and other young artists, all barely 20 years old, brought Tsukuhae to life, an innovative little magazine of prints and poetry. In addition to these, Nomura discusses the instances in which Japanese artists and writers were in direct contact with their foreign counterparts, including the exchange Fritz Rumpf, a pupil of Emil Orlik, had with Pan-no-kai and Ishii Hakutei, the letter Max Klinger wrote to Shirakaba in gratitude for publishing an article of his, and the encounter between Kandinsky and Sawaki Yomokichi, then a student sent to Europe by Keiō Gijuku University. It is Nomura’s accomplishment to have tracked down in great detail the expansion of modern German art and criticism into modern Japan via magazines.

Although written in German, Richard Muther’s Geschichte der Malerei im XIX Jahrhundert and Julius Meier-Graefe’s Entwicklungsgeschichte der modernen Kunst both championed mainly French avant-garde artistic movements such as Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Having worked for a time under Siegfried Bing, who had ukiyo-e including shunga recognized as art and led Art Nouveau, Meier-Graefe argued that German art is made “obsolete” by its cultural narrow-mindedness, for unlike France it does not have the “necessary relationship with the Other,” namely Japan.

Nomura’s book contains many charts that correspond to individual discussions. The statistical tables such as the country-by-country breakdown of oyatoi-gaikokujin, i.e., foreign advisors employed by principal government agencies, the lists of Japanese (art) students sent abroad by the Ministry of Education, articles on “modern German art” published in Shirakaba, articles on “Futurism” and “Expressionism” in newspapers and literary magazines, or articles related to the “‘Lebenskunst’ controversy,” are highly interesting and valuable documents. More exhaustive reference to the existing scholarship on the history of modern art in Japan would have rendered even more depth and scope to this book. We look forward to the future development of the author, whose research interests include Japonisme.

(Translated by Kondō Gaku)

(The Committee on the Society for the Study of Japonisme Young Researcher’s Award)



“Van Gogh & Japan”

“The Vienna World Exposition: Dawn of the Industrialization Era”

Van Gogh & Japan

Venue: Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art
Dates: August 26–October 15, 2017
Organizers: Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Hokkaido Shimbun Press, NHK Sapporo, and NHK Planet Hokkaido

Venue: Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
Dates: October 24, 2017–January 8, 2018
Organizers: Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, NHK, and NHK Promotions

Venue: National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, NHK Kyoto, NHK Planet Kinki, and Kyoto Shimbun

The Vienna World Exposition: Dawn of the Industrialization Era

Venue: Tobacco & Salt Museum, Tokyo
Dates: November 3, 2018–January 14, 2019
Organizer: Tobacco & Salt Museum

Reasons for Award

The exhibition “Van Gogh & Japan ” is the first collaborative project between Japanese museums and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, that focuses on Vincent van Gogh’s relationship to this country. Chapter one looked at the artist’s encounter with ukiyo-e. Arriving in Paris from Antwerp in 1886, Vincent was famously captivated by the large amount of ukiyo-e he saw at S. Bing’s store. The show juxtaposed Van Gogh’s copies with the original Japanese prints, clearly demonstrating the way he freely modified color schemes and background elements. Also shown was the interesting fact that the oil Three Novels is painted on a panel that bears the inscription “Kiritsu Kōshō Kaisha” [Japan’s semi-official exporting company].
Chapter Two, “Arles and the Ideal of Japan,” lined up the pictures done in that Southern French town, where he arrived in 1888 in search for a utopia comparable to Japan as he imagined it. In a letter to his brother Theo, Vincent writes that Hokusai’s appeal resides in “his lines, his drawing,” asking him to “buy the Hokusais [from Bing], 300 views of the sacred mountain and scenes of manners and customs.” His Snowy Landscape with Arles in the Background hung next to a few ukiyo-e depicting snow, while The Sower and A Trunk of a Tree were juxtaposed with Hiroshige’s The Plum Tree Teahouse at Kameido, revealing that Japanese prints were on Vincent’s mind while painting.
In Chapter Three, “Assimilating Japonisme,” Van Gogh’s contour became even more pronounced. He stated at the time that he began to “see with a more Japanese eye, [. . .] feel colour differently.” The composition could be seen to become flatter, the color more vivid. Also in this section was Portrait of a Girl (Mousmé), painted after Vincent read Pierre Loti’s novel Madame Chrysanthème.
Chapter Four, “Deep into Nature,” presented the paintings that followed the psychotic attack the artist had after the demise of his cohabitation with Gauguin, which put an end to his dream of creating an artists’ community modeled on his vision of Japan. Here again ukiyo-e’s influence was demonstrated. In 1890, Van Gogh moved to  Auvers-sur-Oise on the outskirts of Paris. It has been known that there he shared his interest in Japan with Dr. Gachet, his primary physician, although the exhibition pointed to the hitherto little noted fact that he attempted to contact the French painter Dumoulin, who had visited Japan and the Australian painter Brooke, who had grown up in Japan. After all, then, Van Gogh did not abandon his dream of Japan until the very end.
Chapter Five, “The Early Japanese Admirers of Van Gogh,” presented the cult of Van Gogh by Japanese artists and intellectuals including members of the Shirakaba-ha [White Birch Society]. They made their pilgrimages to Auvers, where his pictures and grave remained, and some extended their journey to as far as the Kröller-Müller residence in the Hague in order to see Van Gogh works. Rich materials on view included Gachet’s guestbooks with the signatures of Mushanokōji Saneatsu, Kishida Ryūsei, Saeki Yūzō and others, photographs, postcards, journals and valuable documentary footages shot by Hashimoto Kansetsu’s order.
Simultaneously tracking down various manifestations of “Japan” in the Dutch artist’s pictures and tracing the evolution of Japanese perception of “Van Gogh,” the exhibition was highly interesting. The Committee believes that the show fully merits the Society for the Study of Japonisme Exhibition Award.



“The Vienna World Exposition: Dawn of the Industrialization Era” was a special exhibition mounted by the Tobacco & Salt Museum to mark the fortieth anniversary of its opening. Inaugurated on Kōen Street in Shibuya in November 1978 (Shōwa 53), the Museum moved to Yokokawa, Sumida Ward, to reopen in a new building in April 2015.
The Vienna World Exposition was the first in which Japan participated as a nation at the initiative of the Meiji government. While it has been widely known that World Expositions, held in various European cities at the time, were deeply involved with the dissemination of Japonisme, the one in Vienna can be regarded as particularly important in this respect. The present exhibition consisted of three parts. Part One focused on an exposition held in Yushima as a run-up to the Vienna fair, Part Two on the Japanese Pavilion at the World Exposition in the Austrian capital, and Part Three on various effects the event had in Japan. The exhibits were not limited to documents but visual, too, including photographic records and the objects sent to the Exposition.
The run-up event, mounted in 1872 in the Taiseiden Hall of the Yushima Seido, gathered a large crowd. Its bustling atmosphere and exhibits were interestingly captured in nishiki-e. The World Exposition, held at the Prater Park in Vienna between May and October of the following year, is said to have been realized through the then Emperor Franz-Josef II’s enthusiastic support. While the Nagoya Castle’s shachi or  golden dolphin, the papier-maché statue of the Great Buddha of Kamakura , and the scale model of a five-story pagoda are some of the well-known examples of the Japanese exhibits, these latter included many objects for daily use and farm tools that demonstrated everyday life and industries in Japan, in addition to popular items such as ceramics and metal- and lacquer-work. There were local products like Aizu decorated candles and braided straw-work from Ōmori district in Tokyo, or bonsai and Japanese gardens, suggesting the Meiji government’s determination to convey and promote the multi-faceted appeal of its country.
One exhibit that accentuated the venue’s uniqueness involved smoking instruments from Japan (maki-e cigar boxes) and Austria (pipes in meerschaum, a mineral the name of which means “foam of the sea” in German). Comparison of these brought out the aesthetic difference between Japan and the West.
The third and last part touched on Gottfried Wagener, Japan’s Exposition Bureau Commissioner for Vienna, and on the Iwakura Mission, in an examination of the roles that this World’s Fair went on to play in Japan’s future (including the organization of the National Industrial Exposition and the establishment of the National Museum). The catalogue, with more than 200 pages featuring bilingual entries as well as essays by Japanese and Austrian scholars, will be an invaluable reference in this area of study.
The Committee believes that the rich contents of “The Vienna World Exposition: Dawn of the Industrialization Era” make it a worthy recipient of our Exhibition Award.


the 39th Society for the Study of Japonisme Award

Fukai Akiko, Kimono to japonisumu: Seiyō no me ga mita nihon no biishiki [Kimono and Japonisme: Japanese Aesthetics seen through Western eyes], Heibon-sha, 2017
Reasons for Award

In 1994, Fukai Akiko curated “Mōdo no japonisumu” [“Japonisme in Fashion”] (National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto), an exhibition that revealed for the first time how Japan influenced Western fashion. Travelling to Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles and New York between 1996 and 2004, the show made the relationship between Japonisme and fashion recognized and highly appreciated outside Japan as well. Fukai, the winner of the 1999 Society for the Study of Japonisme Special Award, has remained a leading voice in the field with her exhibition curations and publications.

This year’s Society for the Study of Japonisme Award winner, Fukai’s book can be defined as the culmination of the author’s broad and deep study over more than twenty years. Its eleven chapters begin with the gowns (Japonse Rocken in Dutch) depicted in the seventeenth-century portraits by Vermeer. After discussing the expansion of Japonisme, prompted by Expositions universelles, and identifying edo komon [short-sleeved kimono typical of the Edo period] depicted in European and American paintings, the book presents examples of coats and dresses à lakimono = wafuku” [Japanese garments] that appeared on the nineteenth-century Parisian fashion scene, as well as textile designs in Lyon that adopted them. The examination of “kimono” as received and recreated by the West is followed by an analysis focused on two designers from the early twentieth century, Paul Poiré and Madeleine Vionnet.

The book traces the historical process from the initial emulation of outward appearance to the final adaptation of “kimono”’s construction principle. This methodology puts “kimono”’s influence on the Western fashion in a variety of perspectives and analyzes it lucidly, resulting in a significant contribution. Of particular note are the empirical and art-historical contents of the first half, which draw on the author’s previous achievement, a research on Japanese dyed fabric in European museum collections, which was published as Yōroppa ni nemuru “kimono” [Japanese Kimono in European Museums: From Late 19th Century to Early 20th Century] (Tokyo Bijutsu, 2017). The treatment of Poiré and Vionnet in Chapters Nine and Ten are the book’s climax, with observations that can also be read as original and incisive discussions on Japonisme. In the twentieth century “kimono” functioned as a catalyst for modernization of Western fashion, having a hand, as a principle of garment construction, in the establishment of modern dress. This, Fukai suggests, might compare with the role Japanese arts and crafts played for the late nineteenth-century Western art.

While the critical appraisal of Japan Fashion and the treatment of Japonisme’s relationship with the Japanese fashion in the twenty-first century in the final chapter call for further analysis, this would be a task for the next generation of scholars.


(The Committee on the Society for the Study of Japonisme Award)

(Translated by Kondō Gaku)



The 6th Society for the Study of Japonisme Exhibition Award

Hokusai and Japonisme

Exhibition venue and dates: the National Museum of Western Art, October 21, 2017–January 28, 2018

Organized by the National Museum of Western Art, the Yomiuri Shimbun, Nippon Television Network Corporation, and BS Nippon Corporation

World Expositions in the Meiji Period III: Toward a New Age*

Exhibition venue and dates: Kume Museum of Art, October 21–December 3, 2017

Organized by Kasumi Kaikan and the Kume Museum of Art

*) The third and final part of the exhibition series World Expositions in the Meiji Period with I: Beginnings and II: Further Challenges

Reasons for Award

The year 2017 was replete with exhibitions that called visitors’ attention to the exchange between Japanese art and the West with Hokusai at its center. Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave at the Abeno Harukasu Art Museum in Osaka, the Japanese version of the synonymous exhibition organized as a joint international project with the British Museum (London version: May 25–August 13, 2017), attracted large crowds, while Van Gogh & Japan opened almost concurrently with Hokusai and Japonisme in the same Ueno Park, the two joining each other to make one lush spectacle. The year also saw a wave of exhibitions including Prints in Paris 1900, from Elite to the Street (Mitsubishi Ichigōkan Museum), The Elegant Other: Cross-cultural Encounters in Fashion and Art (Yokohama Museum of Art), René Lalique: Perfume Bottles from the Collection of  Kitazawa Museum of Art (The Shōtō Museum of Art), The Japanese Modern World, a Kaleidoscope of Beauty: With a Focus on the Teruhiko Kaneko Collection (Tobacco & Salt Museum), Amazing Craftsmanship! From Meiji Kogei to Contemporary Art (Mitsui Memoriam Museum), and Namikawa Yasuyuki and Japanese Cloisonné—The Allure of Meiji Cloisonné: The Aesthetic of Translucent Black (Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum), each driving home the diverse range of Japonisme in its pervasion not only to major arts but fashion and crafts as well. Equally numerous were exhibitions that presented precious historical documents from the Japonisme period in private or local collections. World Expositions in the Meiji Period was an excellent temporary exhibition series, mounted each fall over three years. Saga à Paris—le défi des samouraïs à l’exposition universelle 1867 at the Saga Castle History Museum was another project of note. The Award Committee has decided that Van Gogh & Japan, having traveled to the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, in the spring of 2018, should be considered for next year’s award.

As mentioned before, Hokusai was the subject of several major exhibitions such as the Beyond the Great Wave show. With the extensive media coverage, this resulted in what might properly be called a “Hokusai Year.” Among all these, the recipient of this year’s Award, Hokusai and Japonisme, towered above the rest with the unmatched quality and quantity of its exhibits, approximately 110 Hokusai works (about 40 nishiki-e and about 70 illustrated books) in addition to Western masterpieces under his influence.

The exhibition was composed of six chapters. Chapter One carefully examined how Hokusai’s impact extended to Western countries. The thought-provoking display gathered many rarely seen books, including travelogues written by those who had arrived in Japan before it officially opened its borders, such as Fischer, a staff member of the Dutch trading house, and Siebold. These volumes quoted Hokusai’s works without the knowledge of their authorship. Then followed the chapters that demonstrated Hokusai’s influence on Western works with “Human Figures,” “Animals,” “Plants,” “Landscapes,” and “Waves and Mt. Fuji” as keywords. Not only were the previously known examples from European countries complemented by others from Spain, Italy and Scandinavia, but attention was paid beyond painting to a wide range of craft works such as decorative panels, furniture, glassware and ceramics. Admittedly, some of the juxtapositions with the Hokusais instantly evinced direct influence while others did not. In general, however, first-rate artists would be less inclined to reveal the sources of their inspiration, and the whole pleasure of Japonisme studies resides in tracking them down. It is arguably the exhibition’s demonstration of this exact point that proved the organizers’ competence. Finally, the catalogue was another of its merits, featuring as it did a diverse range of international contributors that confirmed the ongoing global expansion of Japonisme studies.

World Expositions in the Meiji Period was a major temporary exhibition project mounted over three years by the Kume Museum of Art in tandem with Kasumi Kaikan. The Museum is dedicated to the display of documents and artworks related to Kume Kunitake and his son Keiichirō. Kunitake, originally a samurai from the Saga domain, travelled to the West in 1871–1873 as a member of the Iwakura Mission and compiled the monumental The Iwakura Embassy: A True Account of the Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary’s Journey of Observation through the United States of America and Europe. Kasumi Kaikan is an incorporated association that replaced Kazoku Kaikan [Peerage Association] after the abolition of the peerage system in 1947.

The first installment, entitled I: Beginnings (October 31–December 6, 2015), dealt with the World Expositions in Paris (1867), Vienna (1873), Philadelphia (1876) and Paris again (1876), as well as Japan’s Domestic Industrial Exposition in 1877. The second, entitled II: Further Challenges (October 29–December 4, 2016), presented works related to the World Expositions in Barcelona (1888), Paris (1889), Chicago (1893), the Third and Forth Domestic Industrial Expositions, as well as the transformation of the Rokumeikan (Deer-Crying Pavilion) into Kazoku Kaikan. Building on these achievements, III: Toward a New Age was held in 2017. This exhibition focused on the 1900 Paris and 1904 Saint Louis World Expositions, in addition to the Fifth Domestic Industrial Exposition, the last of its kind held in Osaka that contrary to the “domestic” in its name counted fourteen foreign countries among the participants.

The catalogue vividly conjures up the atmosphere of the 1900 Paris World Exposition, which Natsume Sōseki visited, through an accompanying facsimile of the map of that Exposition’s site, printed on both sides of a B3 sheet with numerous period photographs of the pavilion exteriors. The catalogue’s extensive appendix, detailed comments on some entries, and scholarly essays, including a comparative study of the French and Japanese editions of Histoire de l’art du Japon, a book that constituted the country’s first official presentation of the subject to the world, make this volume an important reference for the history of universal expositions and cross-cultural art history between Japan and the West. In addition, the show displayed eye-witness reports as well as memorabilia collected by Kume Keiichirō who played an important role in several exhibitions. Valuable postcards of the Fifth Industrial Exhibition collected by Princess Nashimoto Itsuko are also shown. Never had the history of World Expositions been told with such vividness.

For the reasons above the Committee selected these two exhibitions for this year’s Exhibition Award.

(Translated by Kondō Gaku)

(The Committee on the Society for the Study of Japonisme Exhibition Award)


The 5th Society for the Study of Japonisme Young Researcher’s Award

Recipient: Kume Kazusa, Bi to taishū: Japonisumu to Igirisu no josei tachi [The Beautiful and the Public: Japonisme and British Women], Nihon joshi daigaku sōsho 18, Brücke, 2016.

Reasons for Award

This publication is a revised version of the author’s doctoral dissertation, submitted to Japan Women’s University in 2015. Although its geographical scope is limited to Britain, the study takes up a diverse range of objects as well as various agents who played different roles in their country’s version of Japonisme. Chapter One discusses public and private collections, followed by Chapter Two on artists of Aestheticism, Chapter Three on industrial and decorative arts designers, and Chapter Four on the middle-class women and their reception of Japonisme.

The author not only consulted a wide range of existing scholarship and carefully considered broader historical and social contexts, but also amply examined the hitherto neglected period documents including newspapers, magazines, collection catalogues, department store catalogues and trade statistics, a scrupulous approach to be highly commended.

For example, the book describes James Lord Bowes, a Liverpool collector, from multiple angles and in detail, including the content of his collection, its operation as a museum, and Bowes’s role as a hub of the network of Japanese residents in Britain in his capacity of the Honorary Japanese Consul in his city.

The book also offers an in-depth treatment of the adaptation of Japonisme to industrial arts in the context of design improvement movements in Britain, especially in its discussions on wallpaper that examine Lewis Foreman Day and embossed Japanese paper (kin-karakawa-shi). An export from Japan, this leather-resembling wallpaper was originally inspired by embossed leather brought to the country by the Dutch during the Edo period. It is thus an interesting instance of two-way cultural exchange between the East and the West.

The principal achievement of this study, however, lies in its highlighting of women as proponents of Japonisme. In the paintings from this period it is most frequently women who appeared with Japanese craft objects, an indication of the fact that with exceptions of artists and collectors many of the admirers of Japanese artifacts were female. Although this in and of itself has been a matter of public knowledge, the author brought these middle-class women’s taste into sharper focus through extensive consultation of women’s magazines and handbooks for interior decoration. The investigation on wallpaper is further developed here in an archival examination of actual order forms, received by an interior decorator over a period of approximately 100 years and now conserved at the Victoria & Albert Museum. These meticulously document what kind of wallpapers, including the Japoniste ones, were used for what type of rooms.

It is to the book’s credit that it touches on almost all the agents involved with Japonisme: the state and individuals, artists and the public, producers and consumers, men and women. Possible avenues for future developments include a broader investigation into the organic and mutual interactions between these individual agents.

At the same time, the author observes that “the interest in Japanese craft objects, initially limited to a small number of admirers, artists of Aestheticism chief among them, . . . came to be shared by the masses, permeating into the middle-class homes.” Such view, while perfectly predictable given the established modernist and avant-gardist arguments on the subject, may call for a reexamination today. Did Japonisme really spread, mostly in one direction only, from elite artists to the general public, from producers of industrial arts to consumers, or from men to women? The “public” and “women” in the title, upon further scrutiny, might make a different argument possible, one that would considerably revise the standard view. If Japanese craft objects, imported in the late nineteenth century, were among the crucial factors that triggered Japonisme, which of the agents brought them in? Do the demands of artists, collectors and industrialists suffice to account for such massive importation? With its breadth in scope and the great depth of its factual descriptions, this study will no doubt raise these and numerous other fresh questions.

Although the book has already attained a high level in Japonisme studies, the Committee has decided that the Young Scholar Award is the most appropriate to bestow upon it, given its rich promises of further explorations.


Recipient: Teramoto Noriko, Pari bankoku hakurankai to japonisumu no tanjō [Les Expositions universelles de Paris et la naissance du Japonisme], Shibunkaku-shuppan, 2017.

Reasons for Award

This book draws on the author’s research on the historical circumstances in Japan and France of the 1867 and 1878 Expositions universelles in Paris, augmented by a reconsideration of their significance from the viewpoint of Japonisme.

The two Expositions universelles are requisite references in discussions on the evolution of Japonisme in France, due to their extensive presentations of industrial products and craft objects from Japan. Their enormous influence on French art and craft is well known, which accounts for the fact that these subjects have been studied mainly by art historians. Instead an attempt to reexamine these same subjects from a broader historical viewpoint, this book’s interest resides in its focus on political interactions and diplomatic negotiations, as well as the attendant transformations of and contradictions within the image of “Japan.”

Chapter One of Part I, on the formation of the image of “Japan” through objects, delineates the historical background to the 1867 Exposition and the highly successful Japanese exhibit, although without offering much in the way of fresh research or insight not available in the previous scholarship. In this regard, Chapter Two produces a more compelling account, revealing as it does the backstage clash at the 1867 Exposition universelle between the Shogunate envoys (led by Tokugawa Akitake), the Satsuma domain, France and Britain. While the Shogunate wanted to turn the fair into an occasion for asserting its authority as a unified imperial state, a scandal broke out when the Satsuma domain intrigued to secure its own display space through Montblanc, an enigmatic figure with extraordinary diplomatic skills. The affair was further complicated by the involvement of A.von Siebold, the Tokugawa envoys’ interpreter with ties to the United Kingdom, and Villette, the private tutor to Akitake who represented the French side. In this process the national image of “Japan” became unstable, resulting in the perception of the country as a federal state without unifying governing structure. Vividly conjuring up an episode from the tumultuous political history of the late Shogunate that was played out on the stage of the World Exposition, the account constitutes perhaps the book’s most commendable part.

Less convincing, however, is the author’s claim that it is this Exposition universelle that launched Japonisme. While the event was no doubt instrumental in crystalizing processes already in motion, that is, turning them into a vogue, it would be historically reductive to see it as the origin of the phenomenon.

]. Even though in the end a rift would emerge between Japan’s “promotion of production and promotion of craftwork adapted to Euro-American needs” and the expectations for “Japanese antique” on the part of France, Maeda’s conviction that Japan could catch up with European civilization, his orchestration of the exhibit at the Exposition universelle, and his active exploitation of media strategies, should be more widely known. By contrast, the book’s treatments of “objects,” namely, its discussion on the Japan exhibit (ceramics in particular), and its account of the Japonisme boom, remain rather unsatisfactory. While in conclusion the author seems content with pointing to the fissure between popular enthusiasm for Japonisme and its unfavorable reception by a more specialized public of connoisseurs and critics, there is still much to explore here.Nihon bidan; later translated back into Japanese as Chūshingura classic kabuki [an adaptation of the Yamato in French, wrote journal articles on Japan, and had French actors perform the play Le Japan à l’Exposition universelle de 1878 (industrial promotion) policies. Particularly striking are the accounts in Chapters Three and Four of the resourceful efforts by Maeda Masana, Director of Japan’s Exposition Bureau. His mission was to present his country in the then-current state of a modernized nation with distinct residues of tradition, and organize displays of its artifacts in such a way to connect them to the promotion of industrial development. Enthusiastically engaged in the task, which he performed with ingenuity, Maeda also published shokusan kōgyōSimilarly, it is the “human” aspects of things that make for the most interesting reading in Part II, which looks at the relationship between Japonisme and the 1878 Paris Exposition universelle in which Japan, now a modern state under the Meiji government, participated in advocating

That being said, tackling an overwhelmingly well documented and studied subject from a broader historical perspective, the book has certainly managed to make a contribution of its own to the scholarship on the two Paris Expositions universelles and Japonisme. The Committee thus deems it worthy of the Young Scholar award and look forward to its further elaboration in the future.


(Translated by Kondō Gaku)

(The Committee on the Society for the Study of Japonisme Young Researcher’s Award)



The First Society for the Study of Japonisme Exhibition Award (2013)

KATAGAMI Style — Paper Stencils and Japonisme

Mitsubishi Ichigōkan Museum, April 6 –May 27, 2012, organized by Mitsubishi Ichigōkan Museum, Nikkei Inc.; The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, July 7 –August 19, 2012, organized by The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, and Nikkei Inc., The Kyoto Shimbun Co., Ltd.; Mie Prefectural Art Museum, August 28 –October 14, 2012, organized by Mie Prefectural Art Museum, Nikkei Inc., The Chûnichi Shimbun, Mie Television Broadcasting Co., Ltd.

Exhibited works:
Paper stencils, textiles, wallpaper, furniture, craft objects, posters, etc. (total of 456 exhibited items)

MABUCHI Akiko (Professor, Japan Women’s University), TAKAGI Yōko (Professor, Bunka Gakuen University),NAGASAKI Iwao (Professor, Kyôritsu Women’s University), IKEDA Yūko (Senior Curator, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto)

ASAMI Toshiko (Curator, Mitsubishi Ichigōkan Museum), IKEDA Yūko (Curator, the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto), and IKUTA Yuki (Assistant Curator, Mie Prefectural Art Museum)

Selection Process and Reasons for Award
The Society for the Study of Japonisme Exhibition Award, established from this year, underwent the following selection process. The Society considered exhibitions that were held between January and December 2012 and addressed Japonisme or the cultural exchange between Japan and the overseas as a theme of the exhibition. The Society’s board members (including the previous board members as the award nominations took place immediately after the annual board election) were requested to make nominations in March 2013. These nominations were then compiled and organized by the board member in charge of awards, and a screening committee was formed. The screening committee met and selected the award-winning exhibition.
Eleven exhibitions were nominated, and they can be roughly categorized into the following four groups: ① exhibitions that consider modern Japanese craft, such as pottery and textiles, or Western designs from a global perspective or in relations of influence, ② retrospective exhibitions of modern Western artists that highlight their relationship to Japan and Japanese arts, ③ retrospectives of modern Japanese artists who had significant ties to the West, and ④ exhibitions that consider art collections and the circulation of objects between the East and the West. Among the nominees, the exhibitions Ishin no yōga-ka Kawamura Kiyoo [Western Painter of the Meiji Restoration: Kiyoo Kawamura] (Edo-Tokyo Museum) and Debussy, Music and the Arts (Bridgestone Museum of Art), exemplifying the categories ③ and ④ respectively, were praised highly and were recommended by more than one board member for the award.
In the end, the committee chose KATAGAMI Style –Paper Stencils and Japonisme as the recipient of the Society’s first Exhibition Award. This exhibition distinguished itself from other nominees for its direct focus on Japonisme; there were no other exhibitions in 2012 that were thematically comparable. KATAGAMI style was furthermore outstanding in terms of the exhibition concept, the organization of
display, and the catalogue publication, as evidenced by: ① a comprehensive preparation and background research on the subject; ② contribution to advanced scholarly research as well as general public education; ③ creative exhibition display for three different museum venues; ④ an exploration of new perspectives such as the relationship between art and industry; ⑤ historical, aesthetic, and academic contributions to the preservation of Ise paper stencils (Isekatagami), the craftsmanship of which has been designated a national cultural property, and ⑥ overall academic achievement that introduces new approaches and fields of inquiry while also building upon the existing scholarly and research results of past Japonisme exhibitions.
During the screening committee’s deliberation, some criticisms were raised regarding the selection of works and the suitability of certain comparisons that were made in the exhibition. There were also suggestions for more case studies. It is hoped that the scholars who were involved in the exhibition will continue to pursue their research on the subject.
KATAGAMI style was a superbly conceived exhibition. It was also a well-designed exhibition that presented its theme and ideas clearly for the visitor. It travelled to three museums in Japan, and a symposium was held in conjunction with the exhibition; the public awareness of Japonisme in general and as a field of academic research increased as a result. Overall, the exhibition greatly contributed to the study of Japonisme and its dissemination. The committee praised KATAGAMI style highly and judged it to be the most appropriate recipient for the first Society for the Study of Japonisme Exhibition Award.
(The Selection Committee for the Society for the Study of Japonisme Exhibition Award / Translated by Sano Meiko)

The 33rd Society for the Study of Japonisme Award (2012)

IMAI Tomo, for the essay “Un goût d’Extrême-Orient, un regard de collectionneur de la fin du XIXe siècle,” in the exhibition catalogue Un goût d’Extrême-Orient. Collection Charles Cartier-Bresson (June, 2011), and for the editing of the catalogue

( The Selection Cmittee for the Study of Japonisme Award / Translated by Sano Meiko)

Imai Tomo’s essay “Un gout d’Extreme-Orient, un regard de collectionneur de la fin du XIXe siècle” presents a thorough overview of the japonisme – related collection of Charles Cartier-Bresson (1852–1921) that was assembled in the city of Nancy in eastern France. Nancy was one of the birthplaces of the Art Nouveau movement, which, in turn, was inspired by japonisme. The examination of a Japanese art collection that was formed in Nancy is therefore especially significant because it sheds light on the actual objects that could have influenced the artists of this region. Since many of the first collections of Japanese objects became dispersed in the early twentieth century, the Cartier-Bresson collection remains an important cultural heritage because it represents the second wave of Japanese art collections and also helps identify the provenance of the objects that were collected earlier. Imai’s essay exhibits insights that can only come from someone who conducted extensive research on the collection, based on direct access to archival materials.
It is said that Charles Cartier-Bresson seriously began to collect art from about 1889, and his detailed acquisition record preserves concrete information regarding the provenances of the purchased objects and the dates of their acquisition. Such information is extremely useful for it enables the scholar to recover the channels of acquisition that had otherwise become impossible to trace.
The major findings of Imai’s essay can be summarized in the following four points: firstly, it identifies Cartier-Bresson’s acquisition route by tracing his purchase of bronze objects to the famous shop of the art dealer Antoine de la Narde, Nouvelle Athene, that was opened shortly after the 1878 Universal Exposition in Paris. Through this finding, one can partially reconstruct where and how objects were circulated and sold at the time.
Secondly, Paul Bruno, Cartier-Bresson’s cousin, was an accountant for the Société des Amis du Louvre when it was first established, and through this connection one can recognize the close relationship between the devotees of Japanese arts and the object d’art department of the Louvre Museum. One now understands how the Louvre came to acquire Chinese bronze works.
Thirdly, Imai was able to identify that Cartier-Bresson purchased 42 works from the posthumous auction in 1891 of the collection of Philippe Burty, who had coined the term “japonisme.” These specific identifications illuminate the artistic taste of the period when the second generation of Japanese art collectors began buying art upon the dispersion of the collections amassed by the first generation of Japanese art collectors. These 42 works include inrō, which are depicted in engravings by Felix Buhot.
Lastly, Imai discovered that Cartier-Bresson bought at least 23 works from the auction of Edmond de
Goncourt’s collection. Only three photographs, taken by Fernand Rochat, of the Goncourt residence remain, but the works purchased by Cartier-Bresson can be matched with the objects shown in these photographs. With regards to the lacquer and makie objects, Imai presents an archival document that records the Goncourt’s surprise at Wakai Kanezaburô’s assessment of what de Goncourt considered to be “a plain and sober work” as an “antique” piece. Such an episode highlights the difference in aesthetic taste between the Japanese and the French collectors, who upheld the eighteenth-century taste exemplified by Marie Antoinette’s collection.
Overall, the essay displays a high level of scholarship, while the content remains accessible to general readership thanks to the addition of the reader’s notes and other editorial efforts. The award committee gave a unanimous praise for this publication and judged it worthy of the 2012 Society for the Study of Japonisme Award.