Japanese Art Exhibition at Buckingham Palace

All exhibits have their own history. We can’t help but wonder that art has great power, it speaks its own language. This proves the interaction between people and between countries. The exhibition titled “Japan: Courts and Culture” at the Royal Gallery is devoted to the exchange of artistic and cultural values between England, as a representative of the West, and Japan, as a representative of the East. The event will run until the end of February 2023. The Royal Court offers visitors a piece of Japanese art that has been accumulated and carefully stored in England for several centuries. On the occasion, the exhibits were collected in one place to recreate a single picture about culture and relations between Japan and Britain, a history that was not always easy.

Royal Gallery at Buckingham Palace, Japanese illustrations

The Royal Galleries have been redesigned specifically for this collection of Japanese art to show the beauty, craftsmanship and taste of all exhibits. Japanese ceramics, utensils, interior items, works of art attracted the attention of Western neighbors. Screens and cabinets with illustrations of the nature and life of the Japanese looked unusual in the European interior. Prince Albert and Prince George, the future King George V, traveled to Japan as midshipmen and bought cups and a teapot for their father, King Edward VII, at the local market. Persons of their status were honored to meet the Emperor of Japan. This meeting was not strategically important, but it laid a foundation for relations between countries. That visit left a footprint aka drawings on the prince’s body (tattoo). The eldest of the princes got an image of two storks, the younger – a tiger with a dragon depicted in Japanese traditions. It was an unusual art, shrouded in a trail of mystery, and therefore attracted those who wanted to make a drawing, especially since it was fashionable at court and in naval service. In turn, in the Land of the Rising Sun, the art of tattooing was of particular importance. Such drawings were treated with respect, although there were times when it was forbidden. All this drew more attention to underwear drawings.

Japanese-style drawing of a heron among flowering trees

The friendship of the powers began at the beginning of the 17th century with trade relations. King James I sent a letter to Shogun Ieyasu proposing goods exchange, which was approved. The rulers exchanged gifts. The partnership did not last long, soon Japan isolated from Europe and the world. This continued for about two hundred years. Two centuries later, mutual interest led to developing friendship and cooperation. Now we admire the fine art of Japanese masters. Excellently painted screens, caskets, porcelain figurines, drawings on dishes, illustrations on interior items, artistic painting on furniture. For example, Queen Victoria received a hand-painted screen as a gift from the Emperor of Japan, which was considered a painting and not a piece of furniture. Incredibly beautiful work of the artist depicting Mount Fuji. Later, a gift was made to Victoria’s son. It was a warrior costume, that is, armor, the work of masters of military art, as well as interesting artwork in the design of the costume. Another gift for the coronation of Elizabeth II arrived from the East from Emperor Hirohito, a wonderful box with a painted heron, an excellent work of the artist. Each work is unique, it is a historical, artistic value and culture of the nation. The gallery in Buckingham Palace is of mutual interest, the change of eras and rulers, the development of culture and diplomacy of the two countries. And considering all the subtleties, everyone can be convinced that art is capable of creating and sometimes one gift in the form of a portrait, landscape, drawings of animals can renew lost relationships or start new ones. It doesn’t matter if they are people or entire continents.

Precious box illustrated by a Japanese master, depicting flowers

Photos from the Royal Gallery Instagram

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