Tradition and Synthesis: 19th- and 20th-Century Works from East Asia

, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums
  • Snapper (Isaki), Scorpionfish (Kasago) and Ginger (Shin shōga), from the series A Shoal of Fishes (Uo-zukushi)
  • A Pavilion Secluded in a Bamboo Grove
  • Black Seabream (Kurodai), Small Seabream (Kodai) and Japanese Peppercorns (Sansho), from the series A Shoal of Fishes (Uo-zukushi)
  • My Wife
  • Broad-Shouldered Jar with Tall Neck and Dragon-and-Flaming-Jewel Decoration
  • Design 65-10
  • Covered Circular Incense Container
  • Roofs of Florence
  • Actor Nakamura Ganjirō as Akane Hanshichi, from the series Flowers of the Theatrical World (Rien no hana)
  • Square Plate with Abstract Decor
  • Woman in Summer Kimono
  • Circular Covered Box with Abstract Floral Decor
  • 357 Tomo of Bingo
  • Flattened Bottle with Abstract Brushwork Decoration
  • Yamanaka Lake (Yamanaka-ko)
  • Conical Teabowl with 'Yōhen'-type Glaze
  • Moonland ('Yueqing baishi')
  • One Grass, One Flower (Issō ikka)
  • Tea Bowl
  • Portrait of Fukuchi Gen'ichirō, from the series Instructive Guide for Fixing One's Aim and Pressing On (Kyōdō Risshi-ki)
  • Square Covered Box with Slightly Domed Lid
  • Square Vase with Abstract Floral Decor
  • Triptych: Emperor Meiji and His Consort in the Plum Garden
  • Heron in the Rain
  • Okitsu-chō in Suruga Province (Suruga Okitsu-chō), from the series Selected Views of the Tōkaidō Road (Tōkaidō fūkei senshū) Okitsu, Suruga Province
  • Cool Evening (Suzumi), from the series Twelve Figures of New Beauties (Shin bijin jūni sugata)
  • Hokusai manga (Hokusai Sketchbooks), vol. 2
  • Art Nouveau Vase
  • Art Nouveau Vase
  • B14 Haruna no Jinja
  • 641. Wisteria at Kameido, Tokio
  • Orchids and Rocks
  • Long-Necked, Globular Bottle with Bamboo and Blossoming Plum Decor
  • Looking as if She Wants to Go for a Walk: The Fashion of a Married Woman of the Meiji Era (Yūho ga shitasō, Meiji nenkan saikun no fūzoku), from the series Thirty-two Appearances of Fashion (Fūzoku sanjūni sō)
  • Early Spring
  • Bizen Ware Plate with Decoration of Autumn Grasses in Mist
  • Bodhisattva Manjusri (Monju bosatsu no saku), from the series Ten Great Disciples of the Buddha Sakyamuni (Shaka jūdai deshi)
  • Incense Burner
  • Tall, Elongated Vase with Short Neck and Iron-Rust Glaze
  • Actor Ichikawa Sadanji as Hishikawa Gengobei
  • Circular Box with Domed Lid
  • Metropolitan Orpheum, Los Angeles
  • Ceramic Plate: Two Fish
  • Bulging Jar with Stylized Floral Decor
  • Ovoid 'Meiping' Flower Vase with Flaring Lip and Green Glaze
  • B5 Ikao
  • Japanese Graves at Nagasaki
  • Enjoying the Mountain Scenery
  • Actor Kataoka Nizaemon as Honzō
  • Shouldering ('Fu')
  • Foliate Water Dropper with Landscape Decor and with Characters around the Side Reading 'Ta Nam Cha Son Kui Pok' ([May you have] many sons and grandsons [who attain] wealth and good fortune)
  • Cylindrical Brush Holder with Openwork Peony Decor
  • Fisherman in a Mist-Enshrouded Landscape
  • Bizen Ware Plate with Decoration of Autumn Grasses in Mist
  • Road with Ox Cart and Coolies
  • Lobed Ovoid Bottle or Vase
  • Bonbonniere
  • Ornamental Design
  • 114. Girl Dressing Her Hair
  • 629 Cherry Bank at Koganei
  • B13 Candle Rock
  • Miya Jima, 508 (Itsukushima Shinto shrine)
  • A20 Cloister
  • Morning Mist on the Taj Mahal No. 5
  • Horses in the Afternoon (Gogo no uma)
  • Tower of Yasaka, Kyoto
  • Small Garden
  • Hair (Kami)
  • Two-Panel Folding Screen: Two Peaches and a Faceted Bottle with Auspicious Characters (right) and Branch of Fruiting Pomegranate (left)
  • Quiet Evening
  • Tea Bowl
  • Onnagata Ichikawa Shōchō 2nd as Oman, from the series Twelve Actor Prints (Jūni yakusha-e)
  • Elongated Bottle with Short Neck, Angled Shoulders, Herringbone Decoration, and Shell Impressions
  • The Great Tree
  • Large Bowl with Stylized Floral Decor
  • Flask-Shaped Bottle with Abstract Decor
  • Terashima in Snow (Yuki ni kureru Terashima), from the series Twelve Views of Tokyo (Tokyo jūnidai)
  • Woman After the Bath (Yokugo no onna)
  • Cockatoo on Pomegranate Branch
  • Wind God
  • Devonian Period
Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums

Open in varying degrees to the outside world, East Asia grappled with issues of rapid modernization during the 19th and 20th centuries. With the end of China’s Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Korea’s Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1910), and Japan’s Edo period (1615–1868), these three nations became players on a much larger world stage—with differing degrees of satisfaction and success. Extreme change in the form of social and political upheaval, technological advancement and industrialization, and the introduction of Western learning affected every aspect of East Asian society, including the visual arts. Artists were pulled in many, sometimes contradictory, directions: Some strove to continue the revered artistic traditions of their East Asian past. Others advocated modernization by ignoring their conservative cultural roots and embracing newly introduced Western artistic styles, media, formats, and subject matter. Still other artists sought synthesis, seamlessly blending their historical legacies with other, non-Asian, influences to achieve a truly international approach.

Drawn from the permanent collection and augmented with a few choice loans, Tradition and Synthesis features more than 75 objects including paintings, calligraphy, prints, photographs, drawings, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, and other decorative art from China, Korea, and Japan along with a small selection of works that reflect multiple layers of cross-cultural fertilization.

Curated by Anne Rose Kitigawa, assistant curator of Japanese art, Arthur M. Sackler Museum.