Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro... The Great masters of Japan, the Georges Leskowizc collection
As of 8 November 2019, the Hôtel de Caumont Art Centre will be holding an exhibition of Japanese costumes and culture dating from the Edo era (1600-1867); the exhibition will include 150 ukiyo-e prints and other remarkable objects that will be presented to the French public for the very first time. Most of the works are from the Georges Leskowicz Collection,which is one of the largest of its kind in the world.
In addition to ancient manuscripts and objects, the Georges Leskowicz Collection currently comprises 1,800 ukiyo-e prints, executed by the great masters Harunobu, Utamaro, Sharaku,Hokusai, and Hiroshige, including masterpieces such as Hokusai’s ‘Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji’ (1832–1833), ‘The Sixty-Nine Stations of the Kiso Kaidō’ by Hiroshige and Eisen, as well as an ensemble—which is unique in France—of Surimono woodblock prints, which will constitute the core of the exhibition.
The ukiyo-e, ‘Pictures of the floating world’ in Japanese, represented a new ‘art de vivre’,reflecting the popular pleasures of the Edo period (in ancient Tokyo), during the Tokugawa dynasty (from 1603 to 1867). This period was characterised by an artistic and cultural effervescence, but also by the rejection of any foreign influence.
Rare and refined prints, made from precious materials and using particularly elaborate techniques, the Surimono woodblock prints combined figurative compositions with poetic texts. Printed in limited numbers, they were intended for restricted circles of intellectuals or cultural elites. Representing the quintessence of Japanese refinement, these works illustrated the entire range of themes and images that were characteristic of the life and culture of ancient Japan presented in the exhibition: natural motifs and scenes of daily life;the representation of actors performing in the kabuki theatre and the beautiful inhabitants of Yoshiwara; still lifes relating to New Year celebrations; and war and erotic scenes, heroes,and traditional legends.
This ensemble of particularly precious prints is complemented by other major works by the same artists, as well as by famous names such as Harunobu, Utamaro, Koryūsai, Sharaku,Toyokuni, and Kunisada. Echoing the imagery of the Surimono, these prints highlight all the technical and iconographic variety of a fascinating ancestral art.
Via a thematic itinerary, the exhibition will also include crafted objects from the same era,carefully selected from private and public collections such as the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques - Guimet in Paris, the Musée des Arts Asiatiques in Nice, and the Musée de la Parfumerie in Grasse.
Representations of courtesans will be accompanied by kimonos, unique hats, and other female accessories; engraved representations of legends of warriors and samurais will be complemented, amongst others, by original helmets and spectacular armour.
Writing desks, utensils, and everyday objects, as well as photographic reproductions and film extracts will immerse the visitors in the daily life of ancient Japan.
The exhibition will enable visitors to discover the Land of the Rising Sun and to become familiar with the traditional technique of wood engraving.