The Geneva Historical Society has donated three woodblock prints by significant Japanese artists to Hobart and William Smith Colleges, as well as a color on silk painting. The Colleges currently have a small and exciting collection of Japanese art, including paintings, prints and ceramics. The addition of these works significantly strengthens the Asian collection for study and exhibition. They were identified by Associate Professor of Art Lara Blanchard.
The works include: “In the Five Seasonal Festivals: Kikkoden in the Seventh Month, 1843,” by Keisai Eisen (1790-1848); “Famous Places in Edo: Fukagawa Tomigaoka Hachiman (Hachiman Shrine in Fukagawa), 1832-34,” by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858); an untitled work by Hanabusa Ippo (1691-1760), and “Courtesans, 1869,” by Utagawa Kunisada II, (1823-80).
The prints were previously owned by Blanchard Bartlett Walker, daughter of Colleges President Murray and Mrs. Blanchard Bartlett and a long-time supporter of HWS. They hung in her home in Geneva, Balmano Cottage. John Marks, curator of collections for the Geneva Historical Society, says the presentation of the works to the Colleges is, therefore, “an appropriate gift in several ways.”
“Our collection is not unusually large in Asian art but our teaching program is strong,” explains Kathryn Vaughn, visual arts curator in the department of art and architecture. “So, we would like to increase the number of pieces we have available.”
She notes Blanchard, for instance, has her students write essays on these pieces as part of their learning experience. Additionally, Vaughn will be doing a global art exhibition next spring as part of the Colleges’ ongoing gallery series and will be using pieces from the Asian collection in the show, including at least one of these works.
“We are also always happy to enhance our local connections with the community through art,” says Vaughn. “This gift from the Geneva Historical Society-which is a legacy of the Bartlett family- is especially touching for both those reasons.”