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East Meets West: Hiroshige at The Phillips Collection exhibition records

Identifier: IR-CUR-033

Scope and Contents

Curatorial records in this collection document the research and planning for the exhibition entitled East Meets West: Hiroshige at The Phillips Collection. Organized by The Phillips Collection, the show opened at the museum on June 25, 2005, and remained on view through September 4, 2005. Shown in its entirety was the print series The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido (Hoeido edition, 1833-34) by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), considered the foremost specialist in landscape among the Japanese masters of the color woodblock print, known as the School of Ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world”). Featured were Hiroshige's 55 woodblock prints that depict stops along the fabled Tokaido Road, the Eastern Coast highway linking Edo – present-day Tokyo – with the imperial city of Kyoto.

The Tokaido series was mounted not in numerical order but instead displayed “in conversation” with works from the museum's permanent collection by European and American artists influenced by Hiroshige and reflecting Duncan Phillips's aesthetic sensibility, especially in relationship to landscape painting, including Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cezanne, John Twachtman, Maurice Prendergast, Oskar Kokoschka, Morris Graves, Milton Avery, and others. Supporting items on display included a diary from the Phillips family trip to Japan in 1910 when Duncan Phillips was 24; a rare book from the TPC Library; and a loaned painting by Paul Gauguin and three related Hiroshige prints (loaned from the Library of Congress). There was no catalogue created to accompany the exhibition. The show did not travel.

The Tokaido series by Hiroshige was on loan to The Phillips Collection from a private collection in Japan, courtesy of the Japan Art Corporation, Ltd., The Mainichi Newspapers, TBS Vision, Inc., and the Mori Arts Center (Tokyo). Transportation assistance was provided by All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd (ANA). Lockheed Martin was the sponsor of the works of Hiroshige. The exhibition was co-chaired by Howard H. Baker, Jr. (former U.S. ambassador to Japan and former Senate majority leader), Thomas S. Foley (former U.S. ambassador to Japan and former speaker of the House of Representatives), and his Excellency Ryozo Kato (then the ambassador of Japan).

Records in this collection consist of the exhibition planning files of the curator. The bulk of the planning files are comprised of correspondence regarding the organization and logistics of the exhibition, financial and funding records, wall and label text, installation designs, educational activities and public programs, special events, attendance records, and public relations including press reviews, an audio recording from the Diane Rehm radio show, and visitor commentary.


  • Majority of material found within 2005-02 - 2005-10
  • 1986
  • Usage: The material in this collection were used in preparation for the 2005 exhibition.
  • 2005


Conditions Governing Access

This collection includes restricted material.

Biographical / Historical

This exhibition was first proposed in December 2004, when a loan to The Phillips Collection from a private collection in Japan was negotiated for the print series The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido by master Japanese printmaker Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858). Susan (Sue) Behrends Frank, Assistant Curator, TPC, had primary responsibility for the exhibition. These records document her work as the show's organizer, working in association with Takahide Tsuchiya of the Mori Arts Center, Tokyo, Japan, where a travelling show from TPC, From El Greco to Picasso: European Masterworks from The Phillips Collection would be on exhibit in the summer of 2005, and who made possible this loan of the Hiroshige Tokaido series for exhibit at TPC.

There had been a flurry of activity over the course of a few months as the exhibition was finalized under the direction of Frank, before opening at TPC on June 25, 2005. During the course of that activity, Dr. Frank took a fresh look at the museum's permanent collection and identified a number of threads that had appeared from the earliest days of the collection and continued through subsequent decades, things seen as links to museum founder Duncan Phillips's admiration for Japanese woodblock prints.

Duncan Phillips (1886-1966) was profoundly influenced by his first trip abroad in 1910, an extended family vacation to Asia that was primarily spent in Japan. From his earliest purchases of Japanese prints acquired for his own enjoyment, Hiroshige was a personal favorite of Phillips, who owned five of the most well-known prints from The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido. Throughout his long career building the museum's collection, Phillips's acquisitions of American and European works show that his own tastes were attuned to Japanese formal values – asymmetrical composition, flat pure colors, and decorative design – confirming his lifelong interest in merging an Eastern aesthetic with a Western sensibility.


1.7 Linear Feet (4 full legal boxes)

Language of Materials



East Meets West: Hiroshige at The Phillips Collection (2005) exhibition records contain materials created and collected by the Curatorial Department, The Phillips Collection, during the course of organizing the exhibition. Included are exhibition planning files that document the preparation and logistics for the show.


The collection is organized into one major series. Series 1: Exhibition Planning

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Care should be taken in handling audio cassette tape reel of Diane Rehm radio show, Box 3, Folder 16.

Custodial History

This collection is owned by The Phillips Collection and was accessioned from the curators' offices.

Related Materials

The Phillips Collection Library houses archival manuscript material documenting Duncan Phillips's interest in the Japanese aesthetic, including the travel diary kept by his father of the family's 1910 journey to Japan and China, as well as an early Duncan Phillips essay, “Nationality in Pictures” (published in The Enchantment of Art, 1914) that reveals his familiarity with the Tokaido road and with Hiroshige's prints of this ancient Japanese highway. There is also a record of Duncan Phillips's library that references his books related to Japanese prints. Hiroshige by Yone Noguchi (1940), a rare book from the library, was displayed in the exhibition. Three Hiroshige color woodblock prints owned by the Library of Congress were lent for display in the exhibition from the series Thirty-six Views of Fuji (FP 2 –JDP, nos. 1232 and 1235); and the album One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (FP 2 –JDP, no. 1517).

Processing Information

After an initial survey of the collection, some duplicate materials were identified and a number of documents were determined to be of no future reference value for the collection. In discussions with the librarian, approval was given to photocopy documentation, weed duplicate documents (retaining those with hand-written notes), and discard selected drafts. Boxes and folders containing restricted materials were marked with a red dot (see note above regarding "Restrictions"). Folder headings were maintained when possible, but were re-written in some cases for greater clarity and accuracy. Metal fasteners were removed and replaced with plastic clips when needed. Adhesive Post-it notes were photocopied if necessary or otherwise removed. All documents were re-foldered into acid-free folders.

East Meets West: Hiroshige at The Phillips Collection exhibition records, 1986 and 2005
The Phillips Collection Library and Archives 1600 21st Street NW Washington D.C. 20009
Colleen Hennessey, Archives Assistant, supervised by Karen Schneider, Librarian
June 2011
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Phillips Collection Archives Repository

1600 21st St. NW
Washington DC 20009 United States