Shibata Zeshin and the Art of the Meiji Era

  • Exhib_slideshow_zeshin

August 30, 2018 - October 28, 2018
Honolulu Museum of Art

Exhibition Overview

In commemoration of the Meiji Restoration (1868)—a watershed moment 150 years ago when Japan ended centuries of diplomatic isolation and embarked upon a campaign of modernization—this rotation focuses upon prints and lacquerware produced by the artist Shibata Zeshin (1807–1891). Historically, Zeshin’s style has prompted debate amongst scholars; within Japan, many critics have found his work to be either heavily influenced by Western modernism or stylistically conservative. However, throughout the United States and Europe, Zeshin is widely hailed for preserving Japan’s craft traditions and for his keen sense of technical grace and elegance. Presented in this exhibition and the adjacent Japan gallery alcove will be the entire sixth volume of Zeshin’s print series Comparing Flowers (c. 1880s), as well as some stunning examples of his lacquerware, all of which reflect Japan’s remarkable cultural transformation at the end of the 19th century.

Made possible by the Robert F. Lange Foundation.


Shibata Zeshin (1807–1891)
From the series
Comparing Flowers, volume 6
Japan, Meiji period (1868–1912), c.1880s
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Gift of Drs. Edmund and Julie Lewis, 2003 (27600.11)