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Once Upon a Time in Japan

  • Thursday, May 11, 2017
  • (EDT)
  • Monday, July 31, 2017
  • (EDT)
  • Milan, Poldi Pezzoli Museum



19th Century Photographs and Netsuke

Milan, Poldi Pezzoli Museum

May 11–July 31, 2017

As part of the Milano Asian Art 2017 show, the exhibition compares two types of Japanese artworks: a etsue and i selection belonging to the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, and some photographs – albumin prints hand-coloured by artists of the period and collotypes – from the “Ada Ceschin e Rosanna Pilone” Foundation in Zurich, which promotes the study of one of the largest worldwide collections of this kind, left in deposit to the Museum of Cultures of Lugano in 2012.

The exhibited artworks were crafted by very skilful Japanese artists and they beautifullycombine thanks to the style and the iconographies of the represented subjects. All made in what is known as the Meji Period (1868-1912), they show daily life scenes and natural landscapes of an ancient and idyllic Japan, that will be swept away by an uncontrolled modernisation within few decades.

During the Meji period Japan witnessed an unusual union between the Western photographic technique and the mastery of local painters, heirs of an ancient and refined tradition, and able to apply the colour perfectly even on tiny surfaces. The artistic results are of surprising beauty and the subjects represented are so real that it is hard to distinguish them from modern coloured prints. Such a production complied with the demand of Western travellers – the so called gbetrtters – to bring along the memory of an extraordinary Country. Actually the pictures are mostly treasured in splendid album- souvenirs with covers lacquered and inlayed with precious materials – two of which will be shown in the exhibition –, brought back from Japan by Western tourists.

The International Netsuke Society is vehemently opposed to the trafficking, trade or commerce of illegal ivory, horn or any other illegal material. We support and comply with all international laws and regulations, including but not limited to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the Endangered Species Act, and the African Elephant Conservation Act.