Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Japanese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum

A catalogue of the Ashmolean's collection of Japanese paintings by Janice Katz (published Oxford, 2003).

Japanese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum by Janice Katz

Preface and acknowledgements

This catalogue is the culmination of a two-year Sackler Fellowship administered through Worcester College, Oxford University. Its publication coincides with the exhibition 'Japanese paintings: Legend and landscape', in the Eric North gallery of the Ashmolean Museum from October 2003 to January 2004, which provides an opportunity for many works not previously shown to be put on display.

The Ashmolean's collection of Japanese paintings numbers in total about 430 including screens, hanging scrolls, fan paintings, albums, album leaves and other matted paintings. To include all or even most of the works in a comprehensive catalogue would have limited the size of the plates as well as the space for description. Notably, a significant portion of the paintings were added to the collection dur­ing Oliver Impey’s tenure as Curator of Japanese Art. Building on the solid foundations of his research, approximately sixty of the finest paintings were then chosen to be reproduced as full page colour plates with explanations. In deciding which paintings to include, the main criteria were overall quality, art historical importance and rarity. In addition, it was felt that an effort should be made to include works not previously published. Please note that the comments on the paintings are not meant to be the final word in the authenticity or otherwise of each painting, as that would require years of further study as well as resources for comparison with works in several of the world's museums and private collections. It is hoped, however, that these comments will raise questions and suggest further avenues of research. In addition to the sixty main entries, a supplementary section of about a hundred additional works is included to give the reader a greater understanding of the breadth of the Ashmolean’s holdings. This section also serves to conveniently bring together into one volume works that have been published in other sources. Folding screens have not been included as the majority have been beautifully reproduced in Oliver Impey's The Art of the Japanese Folding Screen.

On a personal note, I would like to thank those who made this project possible for giving me the opportunity to study such a wonderful collection in the most warmhearted of environments:

Mortimer and Theresa Sackler, Worcester College, Oxford. Oliver Impey and Christopher Brown.

The amount of work that goes into a project of this kind done in a brief time is of course too much for one person. I am therefore also indebted to the many other individuals who generously gave of their time and expertise, some on multiple occasions:

John Carpenter, Ian Charlton, Timothy Clark, Romain Garbaye, Alexandra Greathead, Sarah Guernsey, Shulla Jacques, Ephraim Jose, Kano Hiroyuki, Behram Kapadia, Helen Kemp, Kobayashi Fumiko, Kobayashi Tadashi, James Lin, Cary Liu, James McMullen, Philip Meredith, Sue Moss, Noriko Murai, Nakatani Nobuo, Flora Nuttgens, Hiroko Oda, Mavis Pilbeam, Susan Rossen, Joyce Seaman, Shimohara Miho, Sue Stanton, Mitsuko Watanabe and the staff of the Department of Eastern Art, Ashmolean Museum.

Janice Katz

Sackler Fellow, Ashmolean Museum


Object information may not accurately reflect the actual contents of the original publication, since our online objects contain current information held in our collections database. Click on 'buy this publication' to purchase printed versions of our online publications, where available, or contact the Jameel Study Centre to arrange access to books on our collections that are now out of print.

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