Hon'ami Koetsu
Handscroll with Poems of the "Sanjurokkasen" (Thirty-Six Immortal Poets) with Design of Cranes (detail)
17th century
(Kyoto National Museum. Important Cultural Property)
Through October 29, 2000

Hon'ami Koetsu (1558-1637), the celebrated early 17th-century Japanese artist whom the art-historian Elise Grilli likened to Leonardo da Vinci -- "a versatile genius in whom all the arts and refinements of his day seemed to find their confluence" -- has never been the subject of a comprehensive exhibition outside Japan. American audiences will have the rare opportunity to see outstanding examples of his work in The Arts of Hon'ami Koetsu, Japanese Renaissance Master, an exhibition of more than 100 objects, ranging from calligraphy and printed books to ceramics and lacquerwork, drawn from collections throughout Japan, Europe and the United States.

Hon'ami Koetsu could be described as an "art director" par excellence. He collaborated with other outstanding artists of his day to breathe new life into traditional formats. Koetsu has the unique distinction of having works in two different mediums -- lacquerwork and ceramic -- designated "National Treasures" by the Japanese government. He was a multi-talented, irrepressible genius who inspired his contemporaries and exerted profound influence on generations to come.