Conférence : “Genji Meets Yoritomo”.

Type : conférence.
Date de l’événement : 26 septembre 2019 à 18h.
Lieu : Burke Center, Columbia University, New York.

Menno Fitski, head of Asian Art at the Rijksmuseum, will lecture on an astonishing mid-seventeenth century Japanese lacquer chest acquired by the museum in 2013. Hitherto known only through a poor World War II-era photograph published by his mentor (and father-in-law), the late Oliver Impey, the RM chest must be counted as one of the finest examples of Japanese lacquer ever to have been exported to the West. It forms part of what Impey described as the Fine Group—comprised of three other, similarly large, richly lacquered chests, in the the Victoria and Albert Museum; the State Historical Museum, Moscow; and one believed to have been sawn up. The recovery of the RM chest was rightfully heralded in the 2015 exhibition Asia in Amsterdam.

The RM and V&A chests are believed to have passed from the directors of the Dutch East India company in Japan who first acquired them to Cardinal Mazarin whose descendants preserved them throughout the eighteenth century. Around 1800, they were acquired by the renowned English collector William Beckford and subsequently sold in the estate sale of his son-in-law, the 10th Duke of Hamilton in 1882. At this point, their paths diverged—one to the V&A and the RM example into the collection of Sir Trevor Lawrence. At some point thereafter, the RM chest dropped off the map, only to remerge in a house near Paris six years ago.

But the odyssey through trade and European princely ownership is only part of their story as the quality and themes of these lacquers are in every sense exceptional (if only for what we now view as having been made expressly for export, i.e, Namban wares). Of a quality more generally identified with the most refined domestic taste (akin to those collected by Maria Theresa and Marie Antoinette), the panels of the chest illustrate scenes from the eleventh century Tale of Genji.

The lecture is scheduled for Thursday, 26 September 2019 at 6:00pm.