Nihonga: Restyling the Past and Present in Modern Japanese Painting

Third Thursday lecture - Sainsbury Institute

Thursday 21 December, 2023
6:00pm GMT - 7:30pm GMT

In-person lecture and streamed online via Zoom.

Lecture Theatre 1, UEA, Norwich, NR4 7TJ

50 min lecture followed by Q&A and a festive reception with sake and mince pies.

Doors open from 17:30.
Free and open to all, booking essential.
To check your time zone conversion if you are joining from outside the UK, click here.

If you would like to attend in-person, please select the ‘In-person’ option in the Zoom registration form. Please note that all registrants will receive a confirmation email from Zoom and a link to the talk. 


John T. Carpenter (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

About the Talk

Nihonga, or “Japanese-style painting” of the late 19th and early 20th century, can be seen as a “renewal” of traditional Japanese pictorial themes and painting techniques in the modern age. This presentation will focus on The Met’s recent acquisitions in this area to explore how prominent Nihonga artists—such as Hashimoto Kansetsu, Kainoshō Tadaoto, Tsuji Kakō, Kaburaki Kiyokata, and Enomoto Chikatoshi, among others—used the human figure as a subject in early 20th-century paintings. Topics will include: China in Taishō-period Nihonga painting; Hashimoto Kansetsu and transmitting Chinese painting themes to Japan; Taisho moga “modern girls”); and Western influences in Nihonga.

About the Speaker

John Carpenter, Mary Griggs Burke Curator of Japanese Art, has been with The Metropolitan Museum of Art since 2011. From 1999 to 2011, he taught the history of Japanese art at SOAS, University of London, and served as head of the London office of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures. He has published widely on Japanese art, especially in the areas of calligraphy, painting, and woodblock prints. He served as the editor of Hokusai and His Age: Ukiyo-e Painting, Printmaking, and Book Illustration in Late Edo Japan (2005) and Reading Surimono: The Interplay of Text and Image in Japanese Prints (2008). Since arriving at The Met he has overseen numerous exhibitions and helped write and edit the accompanying catalogues, including:  Designing Nature: The Rinpa Aesthetic in Japanese Art  (2012);  The Poetry of Nature: Edo Paintings from the Fishbein-Bender Collection (2018; Chinese edition 2021); and The Tale of Genji: A Japanese Classic Illuminated (with Melissa McCormick, 2019). He is currently working on an exhibition and catalogue for Autumn 2024 entitled The Three Perfections: Japanese Painting and Calligraphy from the Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection.

Image: Tsuji Kakō, After High Tide (detail), 1917. Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold and silver paint on silk; each: 155 × 360 cm. Purchase, Mary and James G. Wallach Foundation Gift, in honor of John T. Carpenter, 2022 (2022.163.1, .2)

Please note: you will receive a Zoom link for the lecture for both in-person and online registrations. 


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The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Yakult UK.