Exhibition The Buddhism of Madame Butterfly: Buddhist Japonisme in Geneva

Exh Buddhist JaponismeWhen Japanese art collections were brought together by collectors and government officials since the second half of the 19th century, these collections often included Buddhist works of art.
On 9 September 2015 an exhibition on the influence of Japanese art and religion in late 19thcentury Europe, opens at the Musee d’ethnographie in Geneva. In particular, the exhibition presents the phenomenon of Buddhist Japonisme.

The curators not only visualize the interest for Japanese art in 19thcentury Europe and its influence on European art (a movement we have come to label as Japonisme), they also address the European interest in Japanese Buddhism in these years.

The exhibition and accompanying publication (see details below)  consist of the five following themes:
-opening of Japan to the world
-Japonisme
-Buddhist Japonisme
-Madame Butterfly and the twilight of Japonisme
-rediscovery of Japan and Japanese Buddhism

Works from the Musée d’Ethnographie itself are on display, such as the beautiful sculpture of Amida Buddha, but also loans from the Musée Guimet, Musée Cernuschi, Victoria and Albert Museum and other European Japanese art collections.

The exhibition is the result of ongoing research on Japanese Buddhist works of art in European collections, in which the Asian and Oriental Studies department of the University of Zurich and Hosei University play a leading role. Another such result is the database entitled Japanese Buddhist Art in European Collections (JBAE), which holds information on Buddhist art objects from 46 museums of twenty countries.

In celebration of the exhibition an international scholarly symposium is organized and this takes place on 18 and 19 September. For more information visit the museum’s website.

Jérome Ducor and Christian Delécraz, Le bouddhisme de Madame Butterfly. Le Japonisme bouddhique, Milan: Silvana editorial / Geneva: MEG, 2015. 176 pages, ISBN 9788836631346.