Yamanashi Prefectural Museum

by Stefan Chiarantano, Nov 19, 2006 | Destinations: Japan

Great works of art and beautiful gardens move me. They leave me feeling inspired and refreshed. I am awe struck by the aesthetic experience of art and nature and the beauty of human creativity. I experienced both when I visited the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum, Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture. I visited on Sunday. It was a lovely day. It was warm and sunny. I had no difficulty finding the place. A JR representative directed me to the visitor help desk at the JR station where I was provided with maps and directions to the museum. How wonderful!

The museum (there are two buildings separated by a court) is located in an aesthetically appealing landscaped park which is filled with sculpture, ponds, and Japanese lanterns. The court between the two buildings is home to some incredible sculpture. Here are some of the pieces on display:

Four Piece Reclining Figure 1972-1986
Henry Moore (1898-1986)

Le Monument de Van Gogh 1956
Ossip Zadkine

Claude Lorain 1889
Auguste Rodin 1840-1917

Emile-Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929)

There’s a quaint little garden dedicated to the school of Barbizon called Le jardin de Barbizon. On display is Henry Chapu’s piece (1833-1891), Monument de Millet et de Rousseau (Bronze 1884). In the courtyard by the restaurant, there’s a sculpture piece by Fernando Botero (1932 - ) named Little Bird 1988. Let me tell ya that it ain’t little.

There were many people about enjoying the forecourt and its tranquility and the landscaped grounds. Couples were seated on the marble or stone benches holding hands and little children were scurrying about playing with their toys while being supervised by their families. Families lounged on the green grass resting and chatting quietly.

The piece de resistance of the museum are the works of Jean Francois Millet and the the painters from the School of Barbizon.

The galleries are located on the second floor. On the first floor, there is a concert hall. Just before viewing the works of J.F. Millet, a concert began and filled the galleries above with classcial music.

In the Jean Francois Millet Gallery, there is a portrait photograph taken of J.F. Millet in 1868 by Gaspard-Felix Nadar on display.

The dedication reads:
a Millet
-vrai peintre-
admiration et sympathie
avril 68

Here’s a description of the photograph. He’s standing looking directly at the camera. He’s a large man, robust looking with a large girth. He is well-dressed. He is wearing a white shirt, vest, and jacket. His hair is black and he sports sideburns with a full beard. His hands are in his pocket. He is facing the camera on an angle.

Here is a list of works by Jean Francois Millet on view in the gallery:

Daphnis and Chole
C1845 Oil on Canvas
Daphnis is playing a flute. Chole is holding a fishing rod in her hands which is resting on Daphnis’ left knee. The picture is very dark.

Women feeding Chickens
C1853-56 Oil on Canvas
The woman is standing on her doorstep. Using her apron as basket supported with her left hand, she is carrying chicken fee. In her right hand, she is letting the feed drop to the ground. She has a solemn expression. In the background behind the closed gate is a man tilling the land. We get a glimpse of the lovely landscape. There are 9 chickens. Two birds are in the background making haste to the feeding area.

The Gleaners, Summer
1853 Oil on Canvas

Two women are hunched over gleaning the ground. They are holding sheaves of wheat in their left hand. Another is standing with her back bent. In her left hand she is holding sheaves of wheat. In the background, there are 3 men building a haystack. There’s a man on top, a man on the side and third on the ground. There’s a cart half full of hay. The women are dressed in peasant garb. Their heads are tied with a kerchief.

The Immaculate Conception
1858 Oil on Canvas

She has her arms folded across her chest. Here feet are showing. She is standing on a crescent moon. Her hair is pulled back. She is wearing a veil. There’s a halo of stars above her head. She has beautiful peaches and cream skin. Here eyes though looking out are lost in meditative thought. A blue cloak is draped over her shoulders held together with a beautiful gold clasp. She is radian. Is she with child? She has a lovely oval face. Who was the model?

Portrait of Pauline-Virginie Ono
C1841-42 Oil on Canvas

She’s standing in the center looking out. She’s dressed in black. She has fine, straight black hair. The hair is divided in the center part-way. Two locks of hair are draped over her face. Her left ear is showing. In her hands she is holding a white silk handkerchief. She is wearing a necklace. She is striking looking. She has lovely light brown eyes, lovely skin, and a prominent nose. Her lips are full. She reminds me of the Mona Lisa. She is beautifully painted.

The Sower
1850 Oil on Canvas
A youth dressed in peasant garb is sowing a field. In the background to the right there is a farmer tilling the soil with a team of oxen. And to his left , a flock of black birds are flying overhead. He is lost in the work.

Rocks at Greville
1870 Oil on Canvas

Return of the Flock in the Evening
C1857-60 Oil on Canvas
I love the evening sunset in the background. The shepherd is clutching at his cloak. He must feel a chill. He is wearing a hat. He’s holding a stick in his right hand. A dog is standing guard over the sheep to his left. The sheep are behind the shepherd.

Winter – Cupid brought from the cold
1864-65 Oil on Canvas
Cupid is naked. He looks cold. His arms are held against his chest with his hands tucked underneath his neck. He is embraced by a lovely maiden. Who is she? An elderly man wearing Roman clothing is extending his cloak to cover Cupid with it. He is wearing a garland of leaves on his head. The maiden has lovely refined features. She is the model for the Immaculate Conception. Her hair is beautifully groomed. The maiden’s skirt is decorated with hearts. All the figures have their eyes cast downward. The maiden is expressing her sympathy for Cupid. Cupid is wearing his quiver of arrows. His quiver is visible. Flecks of snow have fallen on his golden hair. Cupid is standing in snow. They are standing at the door.

Woman Carding Wool
Etching Jean Francois Millet
Behind her stands a Spinning-Jenny. She is seated and carding wool. She seems deep in thought. To here left is a bale of wool. On her right, there’s a stool with twisted yarn on top.

Auvergnat Goatherd Spinning 1869 Etching on paper

Women Feeding a Child
1861 Etching
She is gently blowing on a spoon of food. Her baby is nestled in her lap and is supported with her left arm. It’s a beautiful etching evoking the love of a mother for her child.

There were many visitors to the museum this afternoon taking in the works of the painters of the School of Barbizon. Many were awe struck by the paintings and would coo with words of appreciation. I left with the impression that J.F. Millet was an accomplished and versatile painter. He could paint landscapes, portraits, peasant scenes, religious works, and figures drawn from Greek mythology. The etchings demonstrate his superb draughtsmanship.

The gallery adjoining the Jean Francois Millet has an impressive collection of artworks from the School of Barbizon and a Claude Lorrain on display. Here’s a list of the works:

Claude Lorrain
The Wood-splitters (Landscape with River)
C1637 Oil on Canvas
It has a rustic feel. In the fore-ground there are the wood-splitters. To their right, there are three men talking. In the mid-ground, men are loading a barge while others are working on the barge. There are men fishing in the river. In the background, there’s an idyllic landscape with a castle.

Georges Michel
Landscape with Windmills
C1820-1840 Oil on Canvas

Johan Barthold Jongkind
Moonlight at Dordrecht
C1872 Oil on Canvas
It has these lovely fluid brushstrokes. The moon is reflecting in the canal. The windows of some of the windmills are lit. There’s a church spire in the background and barges.

Jules Dupre
C184 Oil on Canvas
In a Forest, Summer Morning

Gustave Courbet
1. The Storm by the Sea 1865 Oil on Canvas
2. The Deer by the Rivulet Oil on Canvas

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
Grand Farmland c 1860-1865

Pierre-Etienne-Theodore Rousseau
1. Edge of the Forest, near the Gorges D’Apremont 1866 Oil on Canvas
2. Landscape with an Oak Tree
Oil on Canvas (It has this lovely orangey glaze surface suggesting perhaps the twilight of the evening sunset.)

Clarles-Francois Daubigny
A Summer Morning by the Oise River
1869 Oil on Canvas
In the fore-ground of the picture to the right are two women washing laundry in the river. To the left in the fore-ground is a procession of ducks. In the mid-ground are two boats moored in the middle of the river, and in the background on the other side of the river along the banks are buildings.

Narcisee-Virgile DIAZ DE La PENA
1. Old Oak Tree in Fontainebleu
1862 Oil on Canvas

2. Forest of Fontainebleu
1862 Oil on Canvas
There are two women collecting firewood.

Charles-Emile Jacque
The Flock in a Forest
c1860 Oil on panel

Constant Troyon
A Market Day
c1859 Oil on Canvas

In the upper left side, there’s a blue sky with a smattering of white clouds. In the top right half side, the sky is clouded over. The sea is in the background to the left of the picture. There’s a family (a father, mother and their son) in the fore-ground with their goats and sheep. A horse is tied to a cart. Behind the family, there is a man examining some sheep with another man standing beside him. There’s an auction taking place in the background. There’s a man in the fore-ground walking on the left side walking toward the auction with his cow in tow.

Constant Troyon
In the Approach of the Tempest
1859 Oil on Canvas
In the fore-ground there is a bull looking out from the picture and behind him is another. In the background behind the bulls, there is a mother and her little blond child (very sweet). She stands ready to catch him should he fall down. The sky is clouded over.

From the Hagiwara, Hideo Collection Room
The collection of Hideo Hagiwara is impressive and highlights his interests. He collected tribal art from Africa and Papua New Guinea. His collection of ceramics and artifacts from China span many periods from the Neolithic Period to the late Qing dynasty period. What interested me was to see the printed images of Seated and Standing Amida-nyorai (Amitabha). The printed images of Seated Amida-nyorai (Amitabha) was found in the inner hollow of Amida-nyorai (Amitabha) owned by Joruri-ji, Kyoto dating from the Heian period. The printed images of Standing Amida-nyorai (Amitabha) found in the Inner Hollow of a Buddhist Statue was found in the inner hollow of a Buddhist statue owned by Jakugo-in, Koyasan, dating from the Kamakura period. The inkstones. water droppers, hikka, brush holders on display spanned many Chinese dynasties. The green-glazed ceramics dating from the Han Dynasty China were very interesting to look at too. There was a pigsty, a money box, a sacrificial table, house, Tower Pavillion, jar, and water jar.

Here are the pieces of artwork that caught my attention in the gallery displaying the works of contemporary and past Japanese artists.

Figura Accoccolata
Emilio Greco 1913 –

Sakamoto, Toturo
2005 Acrylic on cotton canvas

Mizude, Yohei
My pet
1980 Oil on Canvas

Kuri, Yoji
A cynical Drawer
1978 Acrylic on canvas

Rain 1997
Fujita, Osamu
Photo-etching, etching aquatint

1962 Portrait of Henry Moore
Marini, Marino

Horiuchi, Paul
1978 Collage and acrylic on canvas

Fukuzawa, Yuji

Yanagi, Yukinori
Pacific K100B-M3
1997 Bronze, steel

Yanagi, Yukinori
Pacific K100B-M3
1997 Bronze, steel

Tanaka, Shiegkichi
Still Life 1926 Oil on Canvas
Woman in Furs 1926 Oil on Canvas

Hara, Katsuro
Downtown of Paris
1922-39 Oil on Canvas

Shirataki, Ikunosuke
1922 Pencil, watercolor on paper

Cue Garden, London
1923 Pencil, watercolor on paper

Fujita Tsuguharu
(Leonard Foujita)
1. The seven bugles (from the “Apocalypse”)
1959 Ink watercolor on parchment

2. The Four Riders of the Apocalypse (from ‘The Apocalypse’) 1959

3. Heaven and Hell

Hagiwara, Hideo
1998 Oil on canvas

Hagiwara, Hideo
1955 Woodblock print

Flight to Egypt from Life of Christ
1956 Woodblock

Mt. Fuji

Should you find yourself in Kofu, Yamanashi, do pay a visit to the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum. You won’t be disappointed. I wasn’t!