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Japanese collection

Japanese collection

Most of the Japanese objects in the Cernuschi Museum come from the collection of Henri Cernuschi (1821 – 1896). Cernuschi collected these objects during a long voyage through Asia between 1871 and 1873, accompanied by the art critic Théodore Duret. This collection is essentially comprised of bronzes (approximately 2,000) and ceramics (approximately 1,600). After the death of Henri Cernuschi, only a few, top-quality objects, such as the halberd from the Yayoi Period (approximately 450 B.C. – 300 A.D.) and the fragments of screens painted by Ogata Kenzan, were added to this collection, in a museum focused on the art of ancient China.

The objects collected by Henri Cernuschi reflect the taste of this 19th century collector, during a time when Japan was virtually unknown to Europeans. After the Baron of Chassiron, Cernuschi was one of the first French collectors to visit Japan. Thus, his collection is unquestionably of historical interest. Artists of the time, including Gustave Moreau, came to view the collection and make sketches or copies. Decorators, such as Emile Reiber, copied or adapted the objects brought back by Cernuschi for silver pieces for the Cristofle house or even ceramics in Theodore Deck’s workshops.