In 1885, the king of Hawaii commissioned a large oil painting. He wanted to give this as a gift to the Japanese emperor, but the painting never found its way into the imperial collection. Now, the painting is being shown for the first time outside Japan – in an exhibition that reconstructs the context in which the painting was created and the lives of its protagonists. Like a window, the painting reveals the Asian-Pacific world of the late 19th century, a world that had fundamentally changed with the emergence of Meiji Japan as an international power.
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration (in 2018) we look at Japan’s interdependence with the Pacific region at that time: through its workers and its goods, but also through the image that Japan created of itself. We see an image for the Emperor as an invitation: to cross the ocean, to transcend artistic genres and, more generally, to study the drawing of boundaries at work in writing history.
In cooperation with the Chair of Global History at the University of Zurich and the Chair of Art History of East Asia at the University of Zurich.+info