Japanese Art Collection

The Japanese collection contains more than 2,000 works of art ranging from the 10th century B.C.E. to the early 20th century.

The strength of the collection lies in the number and quality of its folding paper screens, an art form that is a unique contribution of Japan. Paramount among the screens is the sublime pair Pine and Plum by Moonlight by Kaihō Yūshō of the Momoyama period.

Additional examples of folding paper screens include the famous Uji Bridge composition, while other screens illustrate the art through the Edo period and conclude with the elegant River Landscape with Fireflies by Shiokawa Bunrin of the early Meiji period. Tawaraya Sōtatsu’s illustration from Tale of Ise, in full color, and Ike Taiga’s hanging scroll in ink of the Impressive View of the Go River show the breadth and versatility of the great artists of the Rimpa and Nanga schools.

An impressive array of ceramics is dominated by the spectacular 16th-century Echizen Water Jar whose monumentality is complemented by the boldness of its glazes. Completely different in terms of scale and embellishment are the subtle Shino wares favored for the tea ceremony, and Kyoto pottery attributed to Ogata Kenzan. From the Edo period there is a small array of underglaze blue and polychrome overglaze enamel porcelains of the Imari, Kakiemon and Nabeshima types. A large, late-17th, early 18th-century dish is an outstanding example of the boldly conceived and dramatically colored Kutani wares in the collection.

The few pieces of Japanese sculpture in the collection feature Buddhist images in wood primarily from the 9th and 10th centuries, such as the regal depiction of Jizo Basatsu. By the Kamakura period (1185-1333) such unperturbed elegance had been abandoned in favor of the more dynamic, even violent, sculptural style that characterizes both the Head of a Guardian King and the Striding Lion: Mount for the Buddhist Deity Monju.

In addition, a portfolio of more than 500 color woodblock prints of the Edo period contains examples of all the famous masters of the ukiyo-e school. They are notable for their excellent condition, and a few are unique impressions as in Two Women of the Lower Class.

Finally, there is an assortment of armor and blade weapons, a sampling of textiles and several superlative pieces of lacquerware. Izuka Tōyō’s Tiered Writing Box, for example, is a masterpiece of the latter genre.