Hiroshige et l’éventail – a voyage in Japan of the 19th century – February 15 – May 29th at the Guimet Museum

For the first time in France, the Musée Guimet is presenting a unique collection of prints by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) intended to decorate fans. Produced between the 1830s and 1850s, they are among the rarest and most elaborate of the artist’s work, one of the last great Japanese artists of the Edo period. The graphics show the diversity of his work, from the famous sites of Edo city and the landscapes of Japanese provinces, to subtle compositions of flowers and birds, to female portraits, historical and literary scenes and parodic images. The works on display come from the Georges Leskowicz Collection, which has one of the finest collections of its kind in the world.

The flat bamboo fan (uchiwa) became popular in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1868) and became one of the mediums of expression for the creativity of the masters of the Japanese pictorial school ukiyo-e. Initially sold during the summer by peddlers or in temporary stalls on the occasion of festivals, Edo fans were offered from the end of the 18th century onwards at the front of print and illustrated book dealers, when they started to be signed by famous artists. Disposable objects, these fans have mostly disappeared; the prints that have survived, uncut and in their first edition, are those that were never mounted on their frames, preserved by print publishers or collectors. Many of these works are now unique or preserved in very rare copies around the world.
Hiroshige made more than 650 prints to decorate this everyday accessory. The exhibition on the second floor of the Musée Guimet invites visitors to discover the artist’s great graphic creativity and favourite themes through a selection of some ninety works, among the finest in the Georges Leskowicz Collection, the most important private collection of Hiroshige fan leaves.
Some of the works on display depict famous sites in Edo (now Tokyo). They include city views, pleasure gardens, temples, places of entertainment and excursion, and the “pleasure district” of Yoshiwara. These representations are marked by the seasons, by particular moments of the day, rituals or festivals, and always animated by characters, often female. The landscapes of the provinces of Japan describe, with great documentary fidelity, spas, maritime views, places of pilgrimage, or even the crossing of rivers, which provide so many picturesque scenes. The “world of pleasures” and the fashionable fictional subjects appreciated by the popular public of Edo are also illustrated on Hiroshige’s fans, with a great variety of subjects: elegant female characters, in their daily setting or associated with famous sites, literary themes, classical or from the contemporary repertoire of kabuki theatre, or even burlesque fiction. Finally, bucolic themes composed of flowers, plants, birds and animals also occupy an important place among the prints presented.



Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.