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The Arts of Hon’ami Kōetsu, Japanese Renaissance Master

July 29–October 29, 2000

Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558–1637), the celebrated early seventeenth-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 Kōetsu, 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 Kōetsu 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. Kōetsu 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.

Main Building


The exhibition is organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan; and The Japan Foundation. It is supported in part by generous grants from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, The Henry Luce Foundation, Inc., The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Additional support was provided by William M. Hollis, Jr., and Andrea M. Baldeck, M.D.; Mr. and Mrs. Howard H. Lewis; Delphi Financial Group, Inc.; and The Rosenkranz Foundation, Inc. Initial funding was provided by the Luther W. Brady, Jr., Endowment for Japanese Art Research Support. Japan Airlines is the official airline.

The multi-media project was created by the International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences, Gifu, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and made possible in part by The Juroku Bank, Ltd., and Itochu International.


Felice Fischer, Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Acting Curator of East Asian Art

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