Japanese narrative art combines artistic enjoyment and everyday life in a special way. It found expression in a variety of materialities ranging from miniature album leaves, illuminated handscrolls to large folding screens, from exquisite porcelain vases to elaborately crafted gold-lacquer boxes and elegant silk robes.

It is a unique form of Japanese narrative art that takes its inspiration from Buddhism, classic literature, poetry, and theatrical scenes to create rich visual imagery realized in a wide range of media. Quotations from and allusions to heroic epics and romances were disseminated through exquisite paintings, prints and the decorative arts, and thus became anchored in the collective consciousness. A fascinating narrative space combines artistic enjoyment and refinement of taste.

Featuring over 100 paintings, lacquer and porcelain objects, silk robes, examples of metalwork, colour woodblock prints and illustrated woodblock printed books created between the 13th and 20th century, the exhibition invites the visitors to immerse themselves in the multifaceted, colourful and imaginative world of Japanese narrative art.

Outstanding artworks are being loaned for the exhibition by some 35 museums and private collections in Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Hungary, and Russia. They will be complemented by the Rietberg Museum’s own holdings, which for the first time are also to be displayed in the context of narrative art.

Guided tours and events

Supported by Georg und Bertha Schwyzer-Winiker Stiftung
and Ishibashi Foundation