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This presentation marks the first time an exhibition in the United States has focused on the eighteenth-century master of painting and calligraphy Ike Taiga (1723–1776) and his wife Tokuyama Gyokuran (1727–1784).
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Bringing together key works from both Japanese and Western collections, it offers American audiences a look at over 200 exceptional and rarely seen screens, handscrolls, hanging scrolls, and album and fan paintings by the two artists. Among them are designated Japanese National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties, several of which will be seen outside Japan for the first time.
Divided into six sections and spanning nearly 40 years, the exhibition opens with Taiga's works dated from 1733 to 1749, providing a chronology of his early artistic experiments. The second section focuses on Chinese themes such as the scholar recluse, which Taiga and Gyokuran explored together. Two sections are devoted to the artists' calligraphy and poetry, both in Chinese and in Japanese. All of the poetry featured will be translated into English, marking another milestone in the study of these two artists. The interpretation of Chinese landscapes associated with the Nanga style developed by Taiga and Gyokuran forms the subject of the fifth and largest section of the exhibition. The final group of works comprises Taiga's later works, reflecting his synthesis of the various styles and approaches that preoccupied him during his career.
Taiga perhaps pictured himself as the ideal literati in the Museum's album leaf, seen above, entitled Enjoying the Moon in a Riverside Cottage. The verse by the famed Chinese Tang dynasty writer, Bo Juyi (772–846) reads:
A Friend Visits at Night
Beneath the eaves, on mat in pure breeze;
Below the pines, a cup in moonlight:
The joys of seclusion are just this way,
And even better now a friend's in sight!
There are 66 extant poems in Chinese composed by Taiga, which are translated for the first time into English for this exhibition by the eminent scholar and translator, Jonathan Chaves.
This exhibition is organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the special cooperation of the Tokyo National Museum and the special assistance of the Osaka Municipal Museum of Art.
The exhibition is supported by the Yomiuri Shimbun and Mitsubishi Corporation, with transportation support provided by All Nippon Airways. The exhibition is also made possible by The National Endowment for the Arts and The Japan Foundation, and by an indemnity from The Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Major support was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Robert Montgomery Scott Fund for Exhibitions, Andrea M. Baldeck, M.D., and William M. Hollis, Jr., and The Wendt Family Charitable Foundation Fund of the Community Foundation Sonoma County. Generous support was provided by The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Maxine S. and Howard H. Lewis, Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, The Blakemore Foundation, Lois and Julian Brodsky, The Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation, Betsy and Robert Feinberg, The Locks Foundation, H. Christopher Luce, The Henry Luce Foundation, Martin and Margy Meyerson, Cecilia Segawa Seigle Tannenbaum, Mr. and Mrs. John M. Thalheimer, Peggy and Ellis Wachs, and other generous donors, and by The Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Initial funding was provided by The Luther W. Brady Fund for Japanese Art Research.
The catalogue is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Fund for Scholarly Publications and The Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies.