Tokyo Museum of Western Art

Tokyo Museum of Western Art

National Museum of Western Art Tokyo

The official website of the museum: www.nmwa.go.jp

Address of the museum: 7-7 Ueno-koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo.

Directions: By train Ueno Station (Yamanote or Kesei lines), by subway Ueno Station (Ginza or Hibiya lines).

Phone: (03) 5777 8600.

Opening hours : Tuesday to Thursday 9:30-17:30 (winter time 9:30-17:30), Friday 9:30-20:00.

December 28 – January 1, the museum is closed.

Ticket prices : Permanent Collection : adults ¥420 (210), students ¥130 (70).

The price in brackets is for groups of 20 people or more.

The second and fourth Saturday of each month, November 3, admission is free for school children, people under 18 and over 65, people with disabilities and their companions.

Information for visitors : The museum has a store where visitors can buy art albums, books and souvenirs. There is a restaurant on the grounds of the museum.

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The National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo houses one of Asia’s finest collections of European painting and sculpture. It is located in the most beautiful place of the capital – Ueno Park.

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The museum was created in 1959. The basis of its collection consists of works of outstanding artists from the Renaissance to the early 20th century, acquired by industrialist and patron Kojiro Matsukata on trips to Europe.

Kojiro Matsukata (1865-1950) came from a prominent family. He was the third son of Prime Minister Masaesi Matsukata, whose name is associated with the creation of the financial system of modern Japan. After graduating from college, Kojiro left the Land of the Rising Sun to pursue a law degree at Yale University. During World War I, while in London, he began collecting works of art, spending on his hobby large sums of money earned by this time as an entrepreneur. Matsukata bought not only paintings, but also decorative arts and sculpture.

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Most of his most significant acquisitions the collector made in Paris. He was on friendly terms with Claude Monet and bought eighteen paintings from his studio in Giverny.

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Matsukata collected about 2000 works by European and 8000 Japanese artists, but he did not intend to enjoy looking at them alone. Matsukata’s plans included building a gallery in the center of Tokyo, so that countrymen could see the collection, which he wanted to call the “Pavilion of Pure Enjoyment of Fine Arts.” The building was designed by Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956), an English artist, a friend of the collector and collection consultant. But the financial crisis that broke out in Japan in 1927 prevented the patron from fulfilling his dream. Moreover, he had to sell part of the collection at auction to save the company from bankruptcy. In 1939, part of the works that were in London, died (presumably) during the fire. Matsukata now owned only those works that remained in Paris.

During World War II, the Parisian canvases (about 400) were confiscated by the government, and until 1951 they were in the possession of France. One of the conditions for their return to Japan was the construction of a special building. The patron’s collection was transported to the Land of the Rising Sun in 1959. In March of that year the building to house it was completed. The project was designed by the world-famous architect Le Corbusier (1887-1965). Later, in 1979, a new wing was added to the museum. At the end of 1997 a wing for exhibitions was added.

Today at the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo you can see not only works from the collection of Matsukata, which includes 370 units (196 paintings, 80 drawings, 26 prints and 63 sculptures), but also various exhibition projects prepared by the museum professionals. There are classical music concerts and specially designed programs for both family recreation and education of young people, regular lectures and international symposia are held here.

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In the permanent exposition there are about 4500 works of great painters: Lucas Cranach the Elder, Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto, Jan Breughel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, Jacob Jordaens, Jacob van Reisdal, Claude Lorrain, Johann Heinrich Füssli, Eugene Delacroix, Edouard Manet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Gustave Moreau, Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, Auguste Rodin.

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Paintings of the XIV-XVI centuries.

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The Archangel Michael is one of the most revered archangels in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, being the head of a holy host of angels guarding God’s law. In this capacity he is mentioned in the Apocalypse (Revelation of John the Theologian): “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought against them, but they did not stand, and there was no more room for them in heaven. And the great dragon was cast down, the ancient serpent, called the devil and Satan, who seduced the whole world, and was cast down to earth, and his angels were cast down with him” (Rev. 12:7-9).

An altarpiece from the museum collection depicts the climax of these lines. The Archangel Michael is represented as a fearsome warrior in golden armor, trampling with his feet the fallen dragon. In his left raised hand he holds a spear piercing the open mouth of the devil, in his right hand he holds a large white shield with a red cross (the symbol of victory of the Life-Giving Cross over the devil). The coloring of the work based on a combination of contrasting white, yellow, blue, green, pink, and orange, as well as the treatment of the face of the saint, definitely conveys the decorative style of the 14th century Sienese school.

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Christ with a crown of thorns is by one of the pupils or a follower of the famous Dutch master Dirk Bowes. It depicts the half-figure of Jesus clothed in scarlet on a gold background. His arms are folded at breast level, on his head is a crown of thorns. The Savior’s face expresses suffering and pain with eyes full of inexpressible sadness. The iconography of the image is very close to the “Man of Sorrows” and “Esse Homo” (“Behold the man”) types, but has a number of essential differences. For example, in the first version Christ always appears before the viewer with the traces of the pains of the cross, while in the second His hands are tied. Here, however, these features of the iconography are absent, which essentially indicates a new type of iconography, called Salvator Mundi – “Savior of the World.

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The frame still bears the Latin inscription “PER VIA ATENDITE ET VIDETE” from the Lamentations of Jeremiah: “Let it not be so with you, all that pass by! Look and see if there is a sickness like my sickness, which has befallen me” (1:12). Since it refers to the second half of this text taken from Holy Scripture, we can assume that this work was part of a diptych. It may have been paired with a depiction of the grieving Virgin Mary.

National Museum of Western Art (Tokyo)

The National Museum of Western Art (Japan 国立西洋美術館 ) is an art museum in Japan, in Tokyo’s Taito District. It exhibits works of art from Europe and North America from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. The National Museum of Western Art is the largest of its kind in Asian countries.

Contents

History

Japan’s only state museum of Western art was based on the Matsukata Kojiro art collection. His collection, which was in France, was confiscated during World War II, but in the late 1950s some of it was given by France to Japan as a sign of reconciliation with the Japanese people. In 1957, for these 196 paintings, 80 drawings, 63 sculptures and 26 works of graphic art, construction began on a new museum building in Tokyo’s Ueno Park designed by Le Corbusier, who was assisted by Japanese architects Kunio Maekawa, Sakakura Junzo and Yoshizaka Takamasa. The two-story building was completed in 1959, and in 1979 it was enlarged by Le Corbusier’s pupil Kunio Maekawa by adding an additional room. In 1997, an exhibition room for traveling exhibits and an auditorium for instruction were added.

Collection

Today the museum’s collection comprises about two thousand exhibits that represent European art from the Middle Ages to the present day. On the first floor of the museum there are works of painting, created from the early 15th century up to the end of the 18th century. There are canvases by Italian masters – L.Bassano, J.Tintoretto, P.Veronese, J.Vasari, C.Dolci, J.F.Barbieri, G.Reni, J.D.Tiepolo, J.B.Tiepolo, P.Longi, etc. Works by Dutch and Flemish masters include paintings by A. van Dyck, P. P. Rubens, H. Dow, J. van Goyen, Jan Sten, J. van Reisdal, I. van Ostade, J. van Cleve and other artists. From German painting there are works of L. Cranach the Elder. From French – paintings by Philippe Champagne, J. de La Tour, C. Lorrain, J.-O. Fragonard, C.-J. Vernet, J.-M. Nattier, J.-B. Pater, and also E. Delacroix, O. Daumier, J.-F. Millais, C. Corot. Of Spanish paintings, the most significant are those of El Greco, B. E. Murillo, and José de Ribera.

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The annex built in 1979 contains works of art from the second half of the 19th and 20th centuries. The core of this collection consists of the works of French impressionists E. Manet, O. Renoir, W. van Gogh, C. Monet (16 canvases), A. Sisley, P. Gauguin, P. Bonnard, M. Denis, P. Cezanne, C. Pissarro and others. Here one can also see works of Italian futurists and English pre-Raphaelites of the first half of the XIX-XX centuries: J.Segantini, D.G.Rosetti, J.E.Millais, the French symbolists G.Moreau and P.E.Puvi de Chavannes, the pointillist Jean Signac. Works by artists of the twentieth century include those of Picasso, Léger, Miró, Derain, Ernst, Rouault, Pollock, Sutin, van Dongen and many others.

The museum’s graphic collection includes a large number of works by such masters as A. Dürer, F. Goya, H. Holbein the Younger, Rembrandt, J. B. Piranesi and M. Klinger. The first floor of the museum also houses the sculptures in the collection. The Tokyo NHMZ has one of the largest collections of works by Rodin, consisting of 58 works by Rodin, including such famous works as The Thinker, Citizens of Calais and Gates of Hell.

Joint catalog

“The Joint Catalogue of the Collections of the National Museum Art of Japan” is a consolidated catalog of materials held in four Japanese national art museums:

  • National Museum of Contemporary Art, Kyoto
  • National Museum of Art in Osaka
  • National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. [1]

An Internet version of the catalog is currently under development, with only selected works available. [1]

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