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"LADIES, LANDSCAPES, AND LOYAL RETAINERS: JAPANESE ART FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION"
2000-12-05 until 2001-02-18
Telfair Museum of Art
Savannah, GA, USA

Glamorous geisha, noble warriors, and breathtaking vistas await the Telfair visitor this winter, when the museum presents an exceptional collection of Japanese art. This important exhibition, evoking the rich cultural ambiance of the Edo period (1600s-1868), features classical Japanese Ukiyo-e prints. Literally meaning scenes from the passing world, Ukiyo-e is a Japanese term referring to the depiction of people engaged in everyday activities. Exquisitely crafted cabinet objects, including sword fittings, articles of adornment, sake cups, and insect sculptures accompany the prints. Two painted screens complete the exhibition.

The fifty-six prints, dating primarily from the 18th and 19th centuries, encompass many different formats, methods of production, and subjects, and include both well-known images and rarities. A variety of traditional subjects, including figurative works depicting courtesans and noble ladies, actors, political leaders, and military heroes, are represented. Charming prints depicting birds, flowers, and insects, rich in symbolic significance, lend a poetic note to the exhibition. Works focusing on nature's more minute aspects are complemented by delightful and expansive Japanese landscapes, including bridge scenes, waterscapes, and mountain vistas. Traditional literary and historical themes are also represented, including several prints depicting scenes from the Chushingura. On a snowy evening in 1703, forty-seven samurai burst into the mansion of the powerful nobleman responsible for the wrongful death of their former master, the lord of Ako. After waiting two long years to satisfy their vengeance, the loyal samurai killed the nobleman and later surrendered themselves to the priests of a Buddhist temple. This vendetta served as the basis for the most famous work of the traditional Japanese theater, Kanadehon Chushingura, or The Treasury of the Loyal Retainers. The samurai ideals of loyalty and resolve exemplified by the Chushingura have captured the Japanese imagination for three hundred years. The works featured in Ladies, Landscapes, and Loyal Retainers are part of a private collection assembled in Kyoto during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Many of these objects have been carefully stored away for years, accounting for their vivid coloration and excellent condition. Organized by guest curator Dr. Daphne Lange Rosenzweig, Ladies, Landscapes, and Loyal Retainers is a feast for the eyes, the mind, and the spirit.


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