In some cases they copied motifs (shown with a Peruvian tapestry that included Chinese mythological creatures and was clearly copied from imported Chinese textiles) and in others, came up with new techniques to replicate the look of Asian art (as with japanning). These days many of these artists would likely be accused cultural appropriation. It was incredible to see the way Asian art had inspired them to create art that was similar but uniquely their own. If you have time to see it before it closes on Monday, February 15th, I highly recommend it.
Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia
Within decades of the “discovery” of America by Spain in 1492, goods from Asia traversed the globe via Spanish and Portuguese traders. The Americas became a major destination for Asian objects and Mexico became an international hub of commerce. The impact of the importation of these goods was immediate and widespread, both among the European colonizers and the indigenous populations, who readily adapted their own artistic traditions to the new fashion for Asian imports.
“Made in the Americas” is the first large-scale, Pan-American exhibition to examine the profound influence of Asia on the arts of the colonial Americas. Featuring nearly 100 of the most extraordinary objects produced in the colonies, this exhibition explores the rich, complex story of how craftsmen throughout the hemisphere adapted Asian styles in a range of materials—from furniture to silverwork, textiles, ceramics, and painting. Exquisite objects from Mexico City, Lima, Quito, Quebec City, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, dating from the 17th to the early 19th centuries, include blue-and-white talavera ceramics copied from imported Chinese porcelains, elaborately decorated furniture inspired by imported Japanese lacquer, and luxuriously woven textiles made to replicate fine silks and cottons imported from China and India.
The timing of the exhibition marks the 450th anniversary of the beginning of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade between the Philippines and Mexico, which was inaugurated in 1565 and ended in 1815, two and a half centuries later.
Date & Time
Through Monday, February 15, 2016
See MFA's website for hours.
Related talk: The Role of Religious Orders and the Introduction of Asian Arts to the Americas, Saturday, February 13, 2:00 - 3:00pm
Museum of Fine Arts, Lois B. and Michael K. Torf Gallery (Gallery 184)
465 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115
|The Southern Barbarians Come to Trader|
A Peruvian Cover is on display alongside a Chinese embroidered tapestry (on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art) that was made for export. Such tapestries have never been found in South America but were known to have been exported to Europe and the Americas. The MFA notes in the label that the Peruvian artisans "closely cop[ied] their format, style, and iconography." You can see how similar the motifs are, in particular, the mythical xieshi. The Chinese embroidery is believed to be from the Guangzhou region and was probably exported to Japan in the 17th century. It has been heavily re-embroidered, most likely in Japan in the 19th century. (Additional information provided by Pamela Parmal, Curator of Textiles and Fashion Arts.)
|Left: Peruvian Cover, late 17th to early 18th century|
Right: Panel with flowers, birds, and animals, 17th century
|Description of Chinese motifs that were copied in Peruvian Cover|
|High chest of drawers, about 1730-40|
Japanned butternut, maple, white pine
They also showed that the influence was not one-way, with this interesting panel by an unknown Japanese artist.
|European King and Members of His Court|
泰西王候図屏風 (Taisei ôkô zu byôbu)
Momoyama period 1601-14
- 2/11/15: Added information about Panel with flowers, birds, and animals.