On April 5, we’re excited to open the new exhibition Focus on the Subject: The Art of the Harari Collection. This exhibition will run through March 30, 2014 in the Frank and Toshie Mosher Gallery of Japanese Art, and includes a full object rotation in October to accommodate a greater number of objects and protect them from extended exposure to light.
The renowned Harari Collection of Japanese Edo (1603–1868) and Meiji (1868–1912) era paintings and drawings is one of the most significant groups of works on paper at Pacific Asia Museum. Amassed in London during the 1950s and 60s by Ralph Harari, the collection includes ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world,” recently seen in our exhibition Masterpieces of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi); important paintings and sketches by Hokusai, Hiroshige and their schools; paintings by Kano, Tosa, Nanga, and Shijo schools; and decorative paintings including fans. In the 1980s, Pacific Asia Museum acquired the majority of this collection with the support of several generous donors. Previously, objects from this large collection have been featured in the exhibitions 40 Years of Building the Pacific Asia Museum Collection in 2011 and Reflections of Beauty: Women from Japan’s Floating World in 2006, among others.
Focus on the Subject: The Art of the Harari Collection features selected works from this group, and shows how Japanese painters and artisans shared their appreciation for certain subjects like landscapes, physical beauty, poetry and more. These recurring themes found in the paintings are also found elsewhere in the Pacific Asia Museum collection in objects like ceramics, textiles, lacquerware and sculpture. By looking at a few of the finest examples of Harari Collection paintings alongside related objects, you’ll see these themes from multiple perspectives for a fuller understanding of Japanese art and culture.
As mentioned above, key objects in the exhibition include several examples of ukiyo-e. One such work is Daruma Carrying a Courtesan Across a Stream by Ogawa Ritsuo (1663-1747) (at left). Daruma is the Japanese name for Bodhidharma, the Indian monk who is believed to have taken Buddhism from India to China in the 6th century C.E. In Japan, Daruma is regarded as the founder and patriarch of Zen Buddhism and is often depicted as a sullen monk with large, staring eyes and wearing a red robe as seen here. In the Edo period, his image often appeared in ukiyo-e paintings and prints beside beautiful courtesans in a humorous juxtaposition of beauty and ugliness. The two figures are often depicted wearing each other’s clothing, though not in the case of this painting.
Make sure to catch both rotations of this exhibition by visiting this spring and later in the fall– you won’t want to miss the beautiful works in either rotation. ~CM
Tsunemasa, The Four Sleepers, Japan, c. 1745, Ink, color and gold pigment on paper, Pacific Asia Museum Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Kamansky, 1988.65.2
Ogawa Ritsuo, Daruma Carrying a Courtesan Across a Stream, Japan, c. 1740, Ink, color, gofun on paper, Pacific Asia Museum Collection, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Calvin Frazier, 1986.67.2