Accepted Paper:

Collecting karamono kodō 唐物古銅in Meiji Japan: the image of China through the archaistic Chinese bronzes of the Chiossone Museum, Genoa, Italy  

Author:

Donatella Failla ('Edoardo Chiossone' Museum of Japanese Art)

Paper short abstract:

In comprehending the Chinese models of Japanese civilisation, the 'things Chinese' attracted the discerning attitude and far-sightedness of Edoardo Chiossone (1833-1898), artist and collector, who was always especially interested in archaistic bronze vessels.

Paper long abstract:

Diverse ideas and levels of knowledge about China and Chinese art had co-existed in Japan for several centuries. The philosophical position of the Japanese thinkers oscillated between enthusiastic adhesion to Confucianism - which in the early and mid-Edo period was an instrument of socio-political stabilisation and institutional radicalization of ethical models - and forms of open competition and ideological expropriation. Chinese poetry (kanshi 漢詩), diffused as means of expression of civil and national sentiments amongst officials and Confucian thinkers, continued to maintain its fortune also with the Meiji political class. Furthermore, the figurative and decorative arts transmitted from China to Japan constituted a profoundly assimilated cultural wealth, which over the centuries was 'Japanized', i.e., transformed. Representing a privileged category of art collecting in Japan, the 'things Chinese' or karamono 唐物 were regarded as everlasting artistic examples and witnesses to the moral and spiritual excellence of ancient China. For this reason, their aesthetics took deep root in the circles of the highest interpreters of taste from the times of the Ashikaga Shogunate up to the end of the Edo period, becoming a not negligible part of classic instruction and artistic education of the elevated ranks of military aristocracy. In comprehending Antiquity and the Chinese models of Japanese civilisation, the theme of karamono attracted the discerning attitudes and far-sightedness of Edoardo Chiossone (1833-1898), artist and collector, who was always especially interested in archaistic bronze vessels.

Panel P006
Museums of Asian Arts outside Asia: Questioning Artefacts, Cultures and Identities