With the upcoming celebrations of 160 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and France in 2018, the Musée de l’Orangerie is particularly honoured to be hosting masterpieces from the Bridgestone Museum of Art in Tokyo this spring and summer.
The collection of the Bridgstone Museum of Art symbolises the bridges that exist between our two cultures, including what the Western world refers to as Japonism, which occupies a unique place. Yet, this mutual fascination for the other’s culture can also be seen in the works of modern Japanese artists, which reflect the direct contact with Western art in the late 19th and early 20th century. One particular example is the presence of Japanese artists in Paris as of the late 19th century, some of whom will be featured in the exhibition at the Musée de l’Orangerie.
The collection of the Bridgestone Museum of Art, with its significant Impressionist core, also reflects the discerning taste for French art of the collector, the legendary captain of industry in modern-day Japan. Looking back on the beginning of his collection in 1962, Shojiro Ishibashi emphasised the eminent position he attached to Impressionism: “The beginnings of my collection date back to around 1930 [...] the works that particularly matched my tastes all had the same focal point: the French school of Impressionists. In amassing my collection, I thus made this focal point of my own approach. This French passion, masterfully celebrated by the presence of prized works by Manet, Renoir and Monet, and perpetuated by the acquisitions of the descendants of Shojiro Ishibashi, Kan’ishiro Ishibashi, and today Hiroshi Ishibashi, echoes the dream of the art dealer and collector Paul Guillaume. Like the Ishibashi family, he decided very early on that he wanted the works he had collected to be on display to the public within a museum. The Walter-Guillaume collection today stands alongside Monet’s series of paintings that form the decorative Water Lilies cycle so admired by Japanese visitors to the Orangerie. This unique series embodies a form of culmination of Japonism, where the painter’s final model becomes the Japanese water garden that Monet had created at his home in Giverny, in Normandy. It is these connections, these fruitful and stimulating exchanges between our two countries, that the Musée de l’Orangerie is placing in the spotlight with this exceptional exhibition. A major cultural programme will accompany this event including, in particular, conferences, concerts and workshops for children and families.
We hope you all enjoy your visit.
Laurence des Cars
General Heritage Curator
Director of the Musée de l'Orangerie