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Reframing Japonisme: Painting Edo and Beyond

A painting on a fan mounted flat on cream-colored paper depicts white irises with green stems and leaves on a dark blue background.
Suzuki Kiitsu, Fans of Seasonal Flowers and Plants (iris), Japanese, Edo period, c. 1828–58. One of eight fan paintings; ink, color, silver, and gold on paper. Promised gift of Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg, TL42096.12.


We’re bringing Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection to you! Join us for this final talk in our series of virtual conversations exploring themes highlighted in the exhibition.

How has Japonisme shaped the reception of Japanese art? In this online program, professors Elizabeth Emery and Chelsea Foxwell will consider the persistent influence of the western construct of Japonisme and the new aesthetic forms it inspired.

In 1872, French art critic Philippe Burty coined the term “Japonisme” to refer to the growing western admiration for “all things Japanese.” European and American enthusiasm for Japanese exports led, however, to the creation of entirely new categories of Japanese “art” than those recognized in Japan. Elizabeth Emery, author of Reframing Japonisme: Women and the Asian Art Market in Nineteenth-Century France, 1853–1914 (Bloomsbury, 2020), will reassess the conceptual framework of Japonisme to ask: who has the right to create new aesthetic categories? Who and what do such classifications exclude? How have temporally specific cultural preferences shaped entire fields of study?

Professor Emery’s presentation will be followed by a response from Chelsea Foxwell, a specialist in modern Japanese-style (Nihonga) painting, and a moderated conversation with curator Rachel Saunders.

Elizabeth Emery, Professor of World Languages and Cultures, Montclair State University

Chelsea Foxwell (respondent), Associate Professor of Art History and the College and Japanese Art, University of Chicago

Rachel Saunders (moderator), Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Curator of Asian Art, Harvard Art Museums

Co-sponsored by the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University.

This talk will take place online via Zoom. Free admission, but registration is required. To register, please complete this online form.

You will receive an email confirming your registration along with a Zoom link and password for the program. If you have any questions, please contact

For instructions on how to join a meeting in Zoom, please click here.

Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection was made possible by the Robert H. Ellsworth Bequest to the Harvard Art Museums, the Melvin R. Seiden and Janine Luke Fund for Publications and Exhibitions, the Catalogues and Exhibitions Fund for Pre-Twentieth-Century Art of the Fogg Museum, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Thierry Porté Director’s Discretionary Fund for Japanese Art, and the Japan Foundation. The accompanying print catalogues were supported by the Harvard Art Museums Mellon Publication Funds, including the Henry P. McIlhenny Fund.

Related programming is supported by the M. Victor Leventritt Lecture Series Endowment Fund, Harvard University’s Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, and the Department of History of Art and Architecture Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund for Art and Architecture.

The Harvard Art Museums are committed to accessibility for all visitors. For anyone requiring accessibility accommodations for our programs, please contact us at at least 48 hours in advance.