Women and the Asian Art Market in Nineteenth-Century France, 1853–1914
Author: Elizabeth Emery
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Japonisme, the nineteenth-century fascination for Japanese art, has generated an enormous body of scholarship since the beginning of the twenty-first century, but most of it neglects the women who acquired objects from the Far East and sold them to clients or displayed them in their homes before bequeathing them to museums. The stories of women shopkeepers, collectors, and artists rarely appear in memoirs left by those associated with the japoniste movement. This volume brings to light the culturally important, yet largely forgotten activities of women such as Clémence d'Ennery (1823–1898), who began collecting Japanese and Chinese chimeras in the 1840s, built and decorated a house for them in the 1870s, and bequeathed the “Musée d'Ennery” to the state as a free public museum in 1893. A friend of the Goncourt brothers and a fifty-year patron of Parisian dealers of Asian art, d'Ennery's struggles to gain recognition as a collector and curator serve as a lens through which to examine the collecting and display practices of other women of her day. Travelers to Japan such as the Duchesse de Persigny, Isabella Stewart Gardner, and Laure Durand- Fardel returned with souvenirs that they shared with friends and family. Salon hostesses including Juliette Adam, Louise Cahen d'Anvers, Princesse Mathilde, and Marguerite Charpentier provided venues for the discussion and examination of Japanese art objects, as did well-known art dealers Madame Desoye, Madame Malinet, Madame Hatty, and Madame Langweil. Writers, actresses, and artists-Judith Gautier, Thérèse Bentzon, Sarah Bernhardt, and Mary Cassatt, to name just a few- took inspiration from the Japanese material in circulation to create their own unique works of art. Largely absent from the history of Japonisme, these women-and many others-actively collected Japanese art, interacted with auction houses and art dealers, and formed collections now at the heart of museums such as the Louvre, the Musée Guimet, the Musée Cernuschi, the Musée Unterlinden, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The home is, for many people, the location for their most intense relationships with visual things. Because they are constructed through the objects we choose, domestic spaces are deeply revealing of a range of cultural issues. How is our interpretation of an object affected by the domestic environment in which it is placed? Why choose a stainless steel teapot over a leopard print one? How do the images hanging on the walls of our homes arrive there? In placing contemporary art in the context of the ordinary home, this book embarks on the contentious topic of whether high art impacts on ordinary people. What is the size and nature of the audience for contemporary art in Britain? Do people really visit more art galleries than attend football matches? What is the significance of the home in relation to such questions? Indeed, what constitutes art in the home? This book carefully unpicks these questions as well as the troubled relationship between the home as a place of comfort and reassurance and the often unsettling and challenging images offered by contemporary art. Within the art world, the home has been addressed as a subject and even used as a temporary gallery and a space for installations, and yet it is not common for works by todays avant-garde artists to be conceived and marketed to participate in the domestic lives that most people live. Handsomely illustrated, this book unites contemporary art, craft and design, with sociology, anthropology and cultural studies to provide an unusual and forthright addition to ongoing art and culture debates.