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Japanese Imperial Craftsmen: Meiji Art from the Khalili Collection

British Museum, London, UK
September 1994 - January 1995

The first exhibition of the Khalili Collection of Japanese Art was held in the Japan Gallery of the British Museum in 1994-5 and opened by Mr Saadaki Numata| Minister Plenipotentiary at the Embassy of Japan. The possibility of holding an exhibition of Meiji period art in the Japan Gallery had been considered for some time| and would have taken place with pieces borrowed form public collections in Japan| the USA and Europe had not the Khalili collection in its entirety been made available. Such a collection could not possibly be duplicated or even approached by any museum in the world today. The metalwork| lacquer and enamel pieces in the exhibition show the extraordinary level of skill of the artists themselves| and the range and depth of the traditional Japanese art forms| which are intrinsic in their work. It is of particular significance that about a quarter of the pieces are by members of the elite group of artists appointed by the Meiji Emperor as Imperial Craftsmen| and that many others are by their pupils and associates. They remain today as monuments to the pride of Japan in her traditional art| which emerged after the restoration of Imperial rule in 1868| and as examples of a level of workmanship| which is unlikely ever to be excelled. This inaugural exhibition of the Khalili collection included 102 pieces that are reproduced in full colour in the catalogue written by Victor Harris| Keeper at the Department of Japanese Antiquities at the British Museum.

Exhibition Catalogue



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