Japanese Archaeological Paintings at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition

“Japanese Archaeological Paintings at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition: Historic and Artistic Significance”
Suzuki Maho (Musashino Art University)

The University of Pennsylvania possesses sixteen paintings of Japanese archaeological artifacts, donated by Japan’s Imperial Museum after their display at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.  The display was organized and supervised by Miyake Yonekichi, champion of a scientific approach to Japanese history and ardent critic of ancient myth as propagated particularly in Japanese textbooks.  The paintings recorded artifacts from the Stone Age to the Kofun Period and aimed to prove both that Japan had a long history and that the Japanese were capable of presenting history scientifically.  It was no accident that the artist belonged to the Goseda School, which flourished from the end of the Edo Period. The school was known for its realistic style and use of shadows. This presentation will analyze the historic and artistic significance of these paintings in the context of the art and history traditions of Meiji Japan.

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