Art, Tea, and Industry: Masuda Takashi and the Mitsui Circle

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9780691032061: Art, Tea, and Industry: Masuda Takashi and the Mitsui Circle


In this illustrated book Christine Guth examines the intimate relationship between art collecting, the tea ceremony, and business through the activities of Masuda Takashi (1848-1938), the highly charismatic director of the Mitsui conglomerate whose opulent life and passionate pursuit of art continue to influence new generations of aspiring business magnates in Japan. An elaborate social ritual in which the worlds of business and art collecting intersected, the tea ceremony guided Masuda in amassing the finest collection of Sino-Japanese art in the early Japanese industrial era. Guth's exploration of his aesthetic ideas deepens our understanding of not only the formation of the canon of Japanese art but also the role of art in the ideology of early modern Japan.


At a time when there were few art museums in Japan and Japanese art was becoming internationally known, Masuda's tea gatherings functioned as a salon where his colleagues, other collectors, and art dealers could view, discuss, and handle works of art. Under his influence, art collecting and mastery of the tea ceremony became integral parts of the business training and activities of Mitsui executives. Masuda's collection was rich in calligraphy, ink painting, lacquer, and ceramics, but it was especially noted for its Buddhist painting and sculpture. These works, which were dispersed after World War II, are now in museums and private collections throughout Japan and the United States.


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"Guth's broadly and carefully researched study focuses on the rich industrialist collector Masuda.... Guth gives excellent accounts of the relationship between art collecting and chanoyu, tea taste in the Meiji period, and changing attitudes toward Chinese art."--Monumenta Nipponica

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