- Obama: Hole U.S. ‘digging out of’ requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
250-year-old Japanese paintings to be shown in DC
Question of the Day
WASHINGTON (AP) - A 30-scroll set of nature paintings from the 1700s that’s owned by Japan’s royal family and considered a cultural treasure is being shown in its entirety for the first time outside of the country at an exhibit in Washington.
The “Colorful Realm of Living Beings,” created more than 250 years ago by artist Ito Jakuchu, consists of intricate paintings of birds, flowers, insects, fish and other animals on vertical silk scrolls. It opens to the public Friday at the National Gallery of Art and will be on view through April 29.
For only the second time in 120 years, the nature paintings are paired with Jakuchu’s “Sakyamuni Triptych.” In this piece, three Buddhist deities overlook the bird-and-flower paintings to serve as the exhibit’s centerpiece. The pairing evokes the original religious context of the nature paintings as objects of worship, curators said.
Since 1889, the fragile silk scroll paintings have been held in separate locations. The nature paintings were donated to Japan’s royal family and held ever since by the world’s oldest monarchy. The Buddhist triptych is held at the monastery where Jakuchu originally left his works.
Even though his masterpieces are kept mostly out of view to help preserve them, Jakuchu has become Japan’s most famous pre-modern artist, said guest curator Yukio Lippit, a Harvard University professor of Japanese art. While his works were famous around the time they were painted, his achievements were later forgotten to a certain extent.
“Awareness of the painter has risen again only in recent years,” Lippit said.
Beyond Japan, the United States is one of the only places where Jakuchu’s works have been recognized and presented, Lippit said. In 1904, the Japanese pavilion at the St. Louis World’s Fair featured a room adorned with his works.
This new four-week special exhibition celebrates the centennial of Japan’s gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the U.S. in 1912 as a symbol of friendship. Other rarely seen works by Japanese artists also are on display at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery of Art to mark the occasion.
On Monday, four Zen Buddhist monks from the Shokokuji Monastery in Kyoto where Jakuchu left his paintings held a blessing ceremony to complete the exhibit’s installation in Washington. They burned incense, chanted prayers dedicated to the Buddha, and one monk knelt before the Buddhist paintings. Their prayers were dedicated in part to honoring the artist’s family and calling for world peace.
Jakuchu’s painting style in “Colorful Realm” was both experimental and classical when he painted the scrolls between 1757 and 1766. He borrowed from traditions of Chinese bird-and-flower painting but also experimented with color. He took the traditional Japanese palette of about 20 colors and carefully mixed, shaded and layered his pigments. Perhaps most notably, Jakuchu applied paint to the backside of the silk to be visible from the front in a muted way through the silk weave.
“What we are witnessing on the front is due in considerable part to what’s going on behind the surface of the painting,” Lippit said. “There’s a strategic process … to create an effect of a kind of subterranean glow and inner life to the work.”
Curators have discovered new details about his techniques through conservation of the scrolls and research in the past decade. A recent analysis discovered synthetic Prussian blue dye in one of the scrolls, which would be the earliest known usage of this European-imported dye in East Asia.
Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery of Art, said the Japanese were eager to partner for the exhibit even after the devastating earthquake in the country just one year ago. Japanese Ichiro Fujisaki said the exhibit was a priority because of his nation’s special relationship with the United States.
Masayuki Inoue, the deputy director for cultural affairs at newspaper publisher Nikkei Inc., which co-organized the exhibit, said it was an expensive undertaking to transport and insure the historic paintings for exhibition thousands of miles from their homes, though he would not disclose the cost.
Showing such cultural treasures from Japan would be similar to touring the works of Leonardo da Vinci or other great European painters, he said.
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Federal deficit shrinks 20 percent in fiscal 2014
- MILLER: Obamacare enrollees include 101 members of the House of Representatives
- EDITORIAL: Our ideological president
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Red Alert focuses on the hottest political topics in the nation and calls Americans to action.
History doesn't have to be grim; there is a lot to be learned from the pages of time.
The Constitution: Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses. And how to get from here to there.
Why can’t humans just be free to be humans?
White House pets gone wild!