On December 19, 1996, the Trustees of the Philadelphia Museum of Art will name the curatorship of Japanese Art in honor of Dr. Luther W. Brady, in recognition of his generous gift to the Museum's Landmark Renewal Fund, the $63 million capital campaign that ended in June 1993. Felice Fischer, who first joined the Department of East Asian Art in 1972 and has served as its acting head curator since 1992, will be named the first Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art. Museum Director Anne d'Harnoncourt comments, "We are thrilled that, in this one act, the Museum can salute both Dr. Brady and Ms. Fischer, each of whom has made essential contributions to the ongoing success of the Museum's Department of East Asian Art as an internationally renowned collection and center for scholarship and thoughtful exhibitions. I know I speak for everyone connected with the Museum when I thank Dr. Brady for his great generosity, commend Felice Fischer for her accomplishments as a curator, and express delight in having their names linked with that of the Philadelphia Museum of Art."
A trustee of the Museum since 1977, Dr. Brady is one of the world's foremost oncologists. He is Hylda Cohn/American Cancer Society Professor of Clinical Oncology and Professor of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Allegheny University of the Health Sciences (formerly Hahnemann University and Medical College of Pennsylvania). Dr. Brady stepped down as Chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Nuclear Medicine in 1996, having built for the department during his tenure an international reputation for teaching excellence and innovative approaches in the treatment of cancer.
Dr. Brady was a founding member of the Museum's East Asian Art Committee (established in 1965) and a founder and former chairman of the Friends of the Museum. He currently serves on a number of Museum committees, including those for the department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs; and Indian Art. In addition to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Dr. Brady is committed to many other cultural organizations, including the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Opera Company of New Mexico, the Santa Fe Opera Company, Settlement Music School and the Curtis Institute of Music.
Felice Fischer joined the Museum as Curatorial Assistant in the Department of East Asian Art in 1972. She received her doctorate from Columbia University, where she specialized in classical Japanese literature. During her tenure with the Museum, Ms. Fischer has installed a range of exhibitions, including Southeast Asian Ceramics (1977), Quest for Eternity: Chinese Funerary Sculpture (1987), and most recently she co-organized the major Museum project, Japanese Design: A Survey Since 1950 (1994). She co-authored the catalogue that accompanied the Japanese Design exhibition, which has been translated into German, Italian, French and Japanese (the show traveled to three European venues as well as to Japan). Ms. Fischer is presently planning the first exhibition in the United States of calligraphy, lacquer and ceramics by the 17th-century Japanese artist Hon'ami Koetsu (tentatively scheduled for 1999).
Over the past decade, Ms. Fischer has organized rotating exhibitions drawn from the Museum's permanent collections that have served to illustrate and explore diverse facets of East Asian Art. These installations have included Japanese Buddhist Art, Chinese Landscape Painting and, earlier this year, the Culture of Flowers in China and Japan.
Acquisitions made by the Museum during her tenure include such important Japanese works as a pair of fusuma paintings from the Muromachi period (1392-1573), examples of calligraphy by literati painters Ike no Taiga and Nukina Kaioku, a 16th-century Iga ware tea-storage jar, and a lacquer writing box designed by Hon'ami Koetsu. Other notable Asian art acquisitions include a pair of Chinese Imperial bowls dating to the reign of the K'ang-Hsi Emeror (1662-1722), a 16th-century Ming dynasty painting table, and a rare 15th-century cast-iron sculpture of a tiger from Korea.
The Museum's extensive holdings in East Asian art date to the interest in all things "Oriental" evident at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, and were formalized as a curatorial division in 1917. The Museum is home to a rich collection of Japanese art, including painted scrolls and screens, swords, decorative arts, industrial design and period rooms, including a ceremonial teahouse that was brought to the Museum from Japan in 1928.