MUSEUM VISIT – Ashmolean, Oxford.
“Threads of silk and gold” – Ornamental Textiles from Meiji Japan
I went to this earlier in the year at the Ashmolean Museum. ‘Threads of Silk and Gold’ introduces the spectacular ornamental textiles that were made for western homes during Japan’s Meiji era (1868–1912). This was the famous period of Japonisme, which saw the European Impressionist painters exploring themes and styles taken from Japanese art, filling Victorian rooms filled with Japanese decorative arts and crafts.
A little background history…
In the 1850’s Japan was forced by the Western nations to open its doors to the outside world after almost 200 years of self-imposed isolation. The opening of Japan led to a fascination of all things Japanese, known as Japonisme. During this period in Japan’s history, called the Meiji era (1868-1912) Japanese prints, ceramics and laquerware became hugely fashionable in the West. Also hugely fashionable at the time was the non-costume Japanese textiles that were made specifically for the Western market as objects for interior decoration. Mainly made in Kyoto, exquisite embroideries, dyed silk and velvet panels, tapestries and appliques became some of Japan’s best known export items. No fashionable Victorian homes would be without Japanese drapes and hangings.
The exhibition displayed various textiles hangings and tapestries collected from all over the world as textiles of the Meiji are very rare despite the fact that they were produced and exported in large quantities. This is simply due to their fragility and the artifacts within the exhibition are the rare survivors. It was not possible to take photo graphs so the image below is from the Ashmolean website however I did take some photos of the mini exhibition at the entrance which was very informative about ornamental silk textiles in general.
The outside exhibition.