Japan in Florence

At Palazzo Pitti,  Florence,  the scheduled second step of  the program “Un anno ad arte 2012 is “Japan, Land of Enchantement”. The event, inaugurated on April the 2nd 2012 and going on  up to July the 1st 2012,  means to be  the right homage to a people known to the town  since the Medicis’ time,  more exactly since 1585.

Here under the guide of Alessandro Valignano,

a Jesuit missionary, the Japanese ambassadors were disclosed  the wonders  of the Renaissance, much earlier than the English and Americans  brought  to Florence by the Grand Tour. The exhibition tells about an extremely sophisticated culture,  basically focused on line and colour,  able to get to essence in spite of the minute details, the use of gold and the chromatic game concerning both  a  tea bowl and a folding screen.  Divided in three different shows, it is hosted by the different museums of the Palazzo Pitti. On the ground floor, in the summer residence of the Medicis,  nowadays  called  “Museo degli Argenti”,  the artworks on show  allow the visitor a plunge into Japan’s history,  from the times of the shoguns , 13th and  14th century rulers  to the pre-industrial Japanese era of the military nobility of the samurais.  The masterworks, ranging from painting and  calligraphy to sculpture, ceramics and fabrics come from various  Japanese  and European museums, which have highly contributed to the show together with the  Florentine Stibbert Museum.

It is possible to admire wonders  such as Katanas, daggers or painted golden  screens,  elegant kimonos,  bowls for the tea ceremony and other objects from the Edo era (17th-19th centuries)

among which the scroll  “Five Beaties “ of the great painter Katsushika Hokusai from Kyoto Hosomi Museum.  The voyage into the  20th century Japan continues  in the White Hall of the Galleria Palatina with  the applied arts. The Galleria di Arte Moderna is devoted to Japanism, that is  the suggestions of the East  on mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when Japan opened to the world,  getting out of two centuries’isolation.  Japanism became a real mania  and the fashion turned to its fans,  screens,  kimonos  and the prints of Utamaro, Hokusai and Hiroshige inspired the western artistic world. France, for instance had already investigated on the influence of Japan on painters such as Whistler,  Manet, Degas, Van Gogh and Gaugain. Now this Florentine exhibition,  for the first time,  focuses on the relationship between Japan and  painters such as the Macchiaioli and other later artists De Nittis,  Balla,  Signorini or even the same Mariano Fortuny.

Japanism has also touched  theatre, a small section is, in fact, devoted to the  sketches and posters of Madame Butterfly by Puccini and Iris by Mascagni. An event not to be missed on April the 14 th and the 15th 2012  the tea ceremony in the Cortile dell’Ammanati and a concert in the Cappella  Palatina  on the notes which welcomed the Japanese ambassadors in 1585.

An ideal circular  conclusion  drawing back to the very beginning of a culturally enriching  relationship

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