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Now on view
Collection Exhibition
Transforming Masterpieces: A Collector’s Love Seen in Art
September 20th, Saturday - November 3rd, Monday, 2014
Closed Mondays except October 13th, and closed on the following October 14th
Hours 10 am to 5 pm
(entrance closed at 4:30 pm)
General admission Adult 1200 yen, Student 1000 yen
Gallery 1

The antique art works that we know today have been handed down from one person to the next over the centuries. During that time the objects have been transformed through the natural process of aging, usage and even historical events. Some objects have been transformed specifically due to the tastes of their owners or the period. Painting, handscrolls and calligraphies, for example, were remounted into new segmented forms, or damaged tea ceremony utensils repaired, so that today quite a few art works bear a different shape, size or format than when they were produced. These transformations of course greatly affect the forms of the objects and how we appreciate them and sense their beauty.
This exhibition focuses on art works that were changed by their owners, including military generals and tea masters of the past, revealing their deep affection for the works, and at times, even a surprising degree of creativity. The exhibition features approximately 100 works, including four designated as National Treasures and 33 designated as Important Cultural Properties.
(Please note that some works will be displayed for only part of the exhibition period.)

Gallery Exhibits

Important Cultural Property
Saigū no Nyōgo, from the Satake Version Thirty-Six Immortal Poets Handscrolls
Japan Kamakura period, 13th century
Private Collection
This fragment of the oldest extant Paintings of the Thirty-Six Immortal Poets is called the Satake version because it was handed down in the Satake family of the Akita clan. In 1919 (Taishō 8), the two-handscroll set was divided into sections, with each section containing one poet, to allow for easier sale. This section is the only part of the Satake version that shows a poet against an elegant background setting, and thus was the most highly prized of all the pieces. In the end, a prominent businessman and tea lover Masuda Donnō (1848-1938) obtained this section. (On exhibit: 9/20-10/13 and 10/28-11/3)
Important Cultural Property
Ishiyama-gire, Pages from the Iseshū Waka Anthology Album
Attributed to Fujiwara no Kintō
Japan Heian period, 12th century
Umezawa Gallery, Tokyo
Two volumes, the Iseshū and the Tsurayukishū, of the Honganji version of the Anthology of the Thirty-Six Poets, were divided up into individual pages in 1929 by their owner, Nishihonganji Temple in Kyoto. The funds raised from their sale was used to found a women’s university, and later the works were acquired by financiers, industrialists and others. This fragment from the anthology is now a renowned hanging scroll, heralded for the beauty of its calligraphy and superb decorative paper techniques.
National Treasure
Fishing Village at Sunset, from an Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers Handscroll
By Muqi
China Southern Song dynasty, 13th century
Nezu Museum
The Ashikaga shogunate owned two versions, small and large, of Muxi’s handscrolls depicting the famous Chinese scenic spots, the Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers. This is one section of the four remaining sections from the large version. This section is impressed with the seal Dōyū, which indicates that it was owned by the 3rd shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408). The cutting up of famous handscrolls began around the time of Yoshimitsu.(On exhibit: 9/20-10/19)
A Section from the “Battle of Rokuhara” Chapter of the Tale of the Heiji Handscrolls
Japan Kamakura period, 13th century
Private Collection
This fragment of a scroll depicts part of the Battle of Rokuhara scene from a set of Tale of the Heiji handscrolls. The same set originally included the Night Attack on the Sanjō Palace fragment today in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The scroll containing the Battle of Rokuhara scene was damaged at some point in its history, and today only 14 small scenes cut from the scroll remain extant. This section used to be owned by Yasui Sotarō, a modern Western-style painter.
Teabowl, named Shumi or Jūmonji
Kōraijawan, Ō-ido type
Korea Chosŏn dynasty, 16th century
Mitsui Memorial Museum, Tokyo
At some point in its history, this teabowl was split into four sections in a cross-like pattern, and then assembled with lacquer “glue” in a slightly smaller form. This transformation probably occurred because its owner thought it was too large to be an effective tea bowl. The bowl thus speaks of the owner’s particular views on tea bowl, while the repairs themselves became one of its fascinating focal points. This bowl is said to have been in the collection of a famous tea master Furuta Oribe (1543-1615).
Teabowl, named Momo
Mino ware, pottery
Japan Momoyama period, 16th century /Showa period, dated 1936
Private Collection
Masuda Donnō, a businessman and tea master (1848-1938), received this bowl in honor of his 90th birthday. The tea bowl shows the yobitsugi repair method, whereby a broken Momoyama period Shino type tea bowl was repaired with a fragment of a different Shino ware bowl of the same period. Today the bowl’s beauty is enhanced by the bold and adroit use of gold paste to assemble the parts.