Ernest Fenollosa

Last updated
Fenollosa in 1890 Fenollosa.jpg
Fenollosa in 1890
Title page of Cathay, poems by Ezra Pound, 1915, based on translations by Fenollosa. Ezra Pound - Cathay Title Page 1915.jpg
Title page of Cathay , poems by Ezra Pound, 1915, based on translations by Fenollosa.
Fenollosa's grave Grave of Ernest Fenollosa - Homyoin Temple - Otsu, Shiga - DSC07598.JPG
Fenollosa's grave

Ernest Francisco Fenollosa (February 18, 1853 – September 21, 1908) was an American art historian of Japanese art, professor of philosophy and political economy at Tokyo Imperial University. An important educator during the modernization of Japan during the Meiji Era, Fenollosa was an enthusiastic Orientalist who did much to preserve traditional Japanese art.

Contents

Biography

Fenollosa was born in 1853 as the son of Manuel Francisco Ciriaco Fenollosa, a Spanish pianist [1] born in Málaga in 1818, and Mary Silsbee. He attended public schools in his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts before studying philosophy and sociology at Harvard College, where he graduated in 1874.

He studied for a year at the art school of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, during which time he married Elizabeth Goodhue Millett. In 1878 he was invited to Japan by American zoologist and Orientalist Edward S. Morse. Fenollosa taught political economy and philosophy at the Imperial University at Tokyo. There he also studied ancient temples, shrines and art treasures with his assistant, Okakura Kakuzō.

During his time in Japan, Fenollosa helped create the nihonga (Japanese) style of painting with Japanese artists Kanō Hōgai (1828–1888) and Hashimoto Gahō (1835–1908). In May 1882 he delivered a lecture on "An Explanation of the Truth of Art", which was widely circulated and quoted. [2]

After eight years at the University, Fenollosa helped found the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and the Tokyo Imperial Museum. He served as director of the latter in 1888. In this period, he helped to draft the text of a law for the preservation of temples and shrines and their art treasures. [3]

Deeply influenced by living in Japan, Fenollosa converted to Buddhism; he was given the name Teishin. He was also granted the name Kano Eitan Masanobu, placing him in the lineage of the Kanō school, who had served as painters to the Tokugawa shoguns. While resident in Japan, Fenollosa conducted the first inventory of Japan's national treasures. This resulted in the discovery of ancient Chinese scrolls, which had been brought to Japan by traveling monks centuries earlier. He was able to rescue many Buddhist artifacts that would otherwise have been destroyed under the Haibutsu kishaku movement. For these achievements, the Emperor Meiji of Japan decorated Fenollosa with the Order of the Rising Sun and the Order of the Sacred Treasures.

Fenollosa amassed a large personal collection of Japanese art during his stay in Japan. In 1886, he sold his art collection to Boston physician Charles Goddard Weld (1857–1911) on the condition that it go to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In 1890 he returned to Boston to serve as curator of the department of Oriental Art. There Fenollosa was asked to choose Japanese art for display at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He also organized Boston's first exhibition of Chinese painting in 1894. In 1896, he published Masters of Ukiyoe, a historical account of Japanese paintings and ukiyo-e prints exhibited at the New York Fine Arts Building.

But he divorced his wife. His immediate remarriage in 1895 to writer Mary McNeill Scott (1865–1954) outraged Boston society. Fenollosa was dismissed from the Museum in 1896.

He returned to Japan in 1897 to accept a position as Professor of English Literature at the Tokyo Higher Normal School at Tokyo. Lafcadio Hearn considered Fenollosa a friend; and Hearn almost believed that he visited the professor's home too often. [4]

In 1900, Fenollosa returned to the United States to write and lecture on Asia. His 1912 work in two volumes concentrates on art before 1800. He offers Hokusai's prints as a window of beauty after Japanese art had become too modern for his own taste: "Hokusai is a great designer, as Kipling and Whitman are great poets. He has been called the Dickens of Japan." Arthur Wesley Dow said of Fenollosa that "he was gifted with a brilliant mind of great analytical power, this with a rare appreciation gave him an insight into the nature of fine art such as few ever attain". [5]

After his death in London in 1908, Fenollosa's widow entrusted his unpublished notes on Chinese poetry and Japanese Noh drama to noted American poet Ezra Pound. Together with William Butler Yeats, Pound used the notes to stimulate the growing interest in Far Eastern literature among modernist writers. Pound subsequently finished Fenollosa's work with the aid of Arthur Waley, the noted British sinologist. [6]

Fenollosa's body was cremated in London. By his request, his ashes were returned for burial to the Hōmyō-in chapel of Mii-dera (where he had been tonsured), high above Lake Biwa. His tombstone was paid for by the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. [7]

Criticism

At a Harvard lecture of 2011, Benjamin Elman refers to the Epochs of the Chinese and Japanese Art (1912) where Fenollosa compares "degeneration" of the late imperial Chinese art to that which befell the high antique art of Europe in Byzantium ("the poorest of the Byzantine mosaics"; "the only hope for the hopeless is to perceive itself to be hopeless"). According to Elman, Fenollosa's perception was influenced by the political and military defeats of the Qing empire. [8]

See also

Notes

  1. Foreword ‘Epochs of Chinese and Japanese Art’
  2. Marra, Michael F. (2002). Japanese hermeneutics, pp. 97–98. , p. 97, at Google Books
  3. "Ernest F. Fenollosa" in Encyclopædia Britannica
  4. Bisland, pp. 412–414.
  5. Dow, Arthur Wesley, Composition: A Series of Exercises in Art Structure for the Use of Students and Teachers, Boston: Doubleday, p. 1913
  6. "Fenollosa, Pound and the Chinese Character", Yale Literary Magazine 126.5 (1958): 24–36. Reprinted: Pinyin.info (2010)
  7. "Asleep Under the Maples at Homyo-in", The Detroit Free Press , 30 January 1910, p. 3.
  8. Reischauer Lectures, Harvard University 2011 [ permanent dead link ] 00:52 ff.

Bibliography

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Lafcadio Hearn Greco-Japanese writer

Koizumi Yakumo, born Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, was a Japanese writer of Greek-Irish descent. He is best remembered for his books about Japanese culture, especially his collections of legends and ghost stories, such as Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things. In the United States, he is also known for his writings about New Orleans, based on his decade-long stay there.

<i>Ukiyo-e</i> Genre of Japanese art which flourished from the 17th through 19th centuries

Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese art which flourished from the 17th through 19th centuries. Its artists produced woodblock prints and paintings of such subjects as female beauties; kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers; scenes from history and folk tales; travel scenes and landscapes; flora and fauna; and erotica. The term ukiyo-e (浮世絵) translates as "picture[s] of the floating world".

Okakura Kakuzō Japanese scholar, author of The Book of Tea (1862-1913)

Okakura Kakuzō was a Japanese scholar who contributed to the development of arts in Japan. Outside Japan, he is chiefly remembered today as the author of The Book of Tea.

Asiatic Society of Japan

The Asiatic Society of Japan, Inc. or "ASJ" is a non-profit organization of Japanology. ASJ serves members of a general audience that have shared interests in Japan.

Kanō Motonobu

Kanō Motonobu was a Japanese painter. He was a member of the Kanō school of painting. Through his political connections, patronage, organization, and influence he was able to make the Kanō school into what it is today. The system was responsible for the training of a great majority of painters throughout the Edo period (1603–1868). After his death, he was referred to as Kohōgen (古法眼).

Basil Hall Chamberlain British academic

Basil Hall Chamberlain was a professor of Japanese at Tokyo Imperial University and one of the foremost British Japanologists active in Japan during the late 19th century. He also wrote some of the earliest translations of haiku into English. He is perhaps best remembered for his informal and popular one-volume encyclopedia Things Japanese, which first appeared in 1890 and which he revised several times thereafter. His interests were diverse, and his works include an anthology of poetry in French.

Japanese painting

Japanese painting is one of the oldest and most highly refined of the Japanese visual arts, encompassing a wide variety of genres and styles. As with the history of Japanese arts in general, the long history of Japanese painting exhibits synthesis and competition between native Japanese aesthetics and the adaptation of imported ideas, mainly from Chinese painting, which was especially influential at a number of points; significant Western influence only comes from the later 16th century onwards, beginning at the same time as Japanese art was influencing that of the West.

Arthur Wesley Dow American artist

Arthur Wesley Dow was an American painter, printmaker, photographer and influential arts educator.

Nihonga are Japanese paintings from about 1900 onwards that have been made in accordance with traditional Japanese artistic conventions, techniques and materials. While based on traditions over a thousand years old, the term was coined in the Meiji period of Imperial Japan, to distinguish such works from Western-style paintings or Yōga (洋画).

Kanō Hōgai Japanese artist

Kanō Hōgai was a Meiji era (19th-century) Japanese artist of the Kanō school. As one of the last Kanō artists, he helped pioneer the nihonga art style with Hashimoto Gahō and art critic Ernest Fenollosa. Hōgai's work reflected the traditional style of the school whilst still showing experimentation and influence with Western methods. Hōgai is perhaps best known for his paintings of dragons, birds, and Buddhist gods such as Kannon.

William Sturgis Bigelow

William Sturgis Bigelow (1850–1926) was a prominent American collector of Japanese art. He was one of the first Americans to live in Japan and helped to form the standards by which Japanese art and culture were appreciated in the West.

Charles Goddard Weld (1857–1911), was a Boston-area physician, sailor, and philanthropist. Weld, a resident of Brookline, Massachusetts and a scion of the Welds of that area, practiced surgery for many years, but ultimately gave it up to manage his family's fortune. He made major contributions to two museums in Greater Boston:

Kanzan Shimomura

Kanzan Shimomura was the pseudonym of a nihonga painter in Meiji through to the early Shōwa period Japan. His real name was Shimomura Seizaburō.

Hishida Shunsō

Hishida Shunsō was the pseudonym of a Japanese painter from the Meiji period. One of Okakura Tenshin's pupils along with Yokoyama Taikan and Shimomura Kanzan, he played a role in the Meiji era innovation of Nihonga. His real name was Hishida Miyoji. He was also known for his numerous paintings of cats.

Kyoto City University of Arts

Kyoto City University of Arts a.k.a. “Kyōtogeidai”. The official abbreviated name is“Kyōgei”. KCUA is a public, municipal university of general art and music in Kyoto, Japan. Established in 1880, it is Japan's oldest university of the arts. Among its faculty and graduates have been 16 recipients of the Order of Culture, 24 members of the Japan Art Academy, and 10 artists who have been designated Living National Treasures. It has been associated especially closely with nihonga painters from western Japan.

Umewaka Minoru I

Umewaka Minoru I, also Umewaka Rokurō LII (五十二世梅若六郎), was a Noh actor of late Edo and early Meiji period Japan. A prolific teacher of Noh in the Meiji period, he taught a variety of people including the painter Kōgyo, the writer Ezra Pound, and the scholar and art collector Ernest Fenollosa. His diary, published under the title Umewaka Minoru Nikki, spans much of his life, and records in great detail his activities and the world of Noh in the Meiji period.

<i>Cathay</i> (poetry collection) Poetry collection by Ezra Pound

Cathay (1915) is a collection of classical Chinese poetry translated into English by modernist poet Ezra Pound based on Ernest Fenollosa's notes that came into Pound's possession in 1913. At first Pound used the notes to translate Noh plays and then to translate Chinese poetry to English, despite a complete lack of knowledge of the Chinese language. The volume's 15 poems are seen less as strict translations and more as new pieces in their own right; and, in his bold translations of works from a language he was unfamiliar with, Pound set the stage for a modernist translations.

Kanō Tomonobu was a Japanese painter of the Kanō school. He used the art names Shunsen (春川) and Isseisai (一青斎).

Khalili Collection of Japanese Art Private collection of Meiji-era art

The Khalili Collection of Japanese Art is a private collection of decorative art from Meiji-era (1868–1912) Japan, assembled by the British-Iranian scholar, collector and philanthropist Nasser D. Khalili. Its 1,400 art works include metalwork, enamels, ceramics, lacquered objects, and textile art, making it comparable only to the collection of the Japanese imperial family in terms of size and quality. The Meiji era was a time when Japan absorbed some Western cultural influences and used international events to promote its art, which became very influential in Europe. Rather than covering the whole range of Meiji-era decorative art, Khalili has focused on objects of the highest technical and artistic quality. Some of the works were made by artists of the imperial court for the Great Exhibitions of the late 19th century. The collection is one of eight assembled, published, and exhibited by Khalili.

<i>Reminiscence of the Tempyō Era</i> 1902 painting by Fujishima Takeji

Reminiscence of the Tempyō Era is a 1902 painting by yōga artist Fujishima Takeji (1867–1943). Inspired by nostalgia for the Tempyō era and, like his Butterflies and covers for the literary magazine Myōjō, an influential exemplar of Meiji romanticism, it has been designated an Important Cultural Property. It is part of the collection of the Ishibashi Foundation.