Greenwich Historical Society exhibition examines the influence of Japanese art and culture

In 1854 U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry established a treaty with Japan that opened trade between the United States and Japan, a nation that had been closed to the rest of the world until that point. Within a year, French artist Félix Bracquemond “discovered” the woodblock prints of Hokusai and circulated them among his Paris art circle. Their influence was immediate, and visiting Cos Cob artists John Henry Twachtman, J. Alden Weir and Childe Hassam all took note. Within a few years, a fascination with Japanese art and culture began to sweep Europe and, following the Civil War, the phenomenon took America by storm as well.

Through paintings, prints, photographs, carvings, ceramics and textiles, the Greenwich Historical Society’s new exhibition, An Eye to the East: The Inspiration of Japan, looks at the influence of Japanese art and culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with a special emphasis on the Cos Cob art colony. The contribution of Genjiro Yeto, who studied under John Henry Twachtman at the Art Students League in New York and spent part of each year from 1895 to 1901 at the Holley House, is explored in a separate gallery and features a recent and important donation of his work to the Historical Society by his granddaughter Yukiko Tanaka.

Coinciding with the opening of An Eye to the East: The Inspiration of Japan, the Historical Society will offer “The Curator’s Eye” tours on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 12:15 pm. These informal, 20- to 30-minute docent-led gallery tours will focus on exhibition highlights, themes and background stories that provide a framework for better understanding the art and objects on display. Docents will also answer questions and help visitors zero in on particular points of interest. These value-added tours are included in the price of admission. A number of exhibition-related programs are planned, including a lecture onkaresansui (Japanese stone gardens), two musical performances by Duo YUMENO and a “Sushi and Sake” event.

For program details, and reservations, visit greenwichhistory.org. Information about this exhibition in Japanese is also available on the historical society’s website.

An Eye to the East: The Inspiration of Japan will run from Oct. 12, through Feb. 26, at the Storehouse Gallery, Greenwich Historical Society, 39 Strickland Road, Cos Cob. Exhibition hours are from noon-4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Regular admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors; admission is always free to members and children under 18 and free to all on the first Wednesday of each month.

Genjiro Yeto (1867-1924). Untitled [Young Girl Practicing Calligraphy], 1914 Gouache and pencil. Museum purchase with donor funds in memory of Noboru Uezumi, 2008.04

Genjiro Yeto (1867-1924). Untitled [Young Girl Practicing Calligraphy], 1914 Gouache and pencil. Museum purchase with donor funds in memory of Noboru Uezumi, 2008.04

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