Mount Fuji claims a special place in the emotions and aesthetics of the Japanese people both in and outside Japan. This attachment, ingrained in the Japanese psyche for over a millennium, has driven artists to express their personal relationship to the mountain from many angles and distances, in many moods and weathers.
100 Views of Mount Fuji explores a wide range of manifestations of this most inspirational of mountains as portrayed in one hundred works by Japanese painters and print designers from the 17th to 20th century.
Drawn from the collection of the British Museum, the exhibition begins with an examination of the more traditional Kan˘ and Tosa schools which served the military and court aristocracy respectively during the Edo period (1600-1868) and goes on to chart the emergence of influential new styles which were beginning to filter into Japan from China and Europe via the trading port of Nagasaki.
By the late 18th and 19th centuries urban artists of many schools were heading out from the cities in search of new landscape subjects and Mount Fuji presented a ready symbol both for 'Nature' and for the nascent ideology of Japan as a modern nation-state. The last section examines the way that new currents of empiricism and subjectivity have enabled Japanese artists of recent centuries such as Maekawa Sempan (1888-1960), Munakata Shik˘ (1903-75) and Hagiwara Hideo (b.1913) to project a surprisingly wide range of personal interpretations onto what was once regarded as such an eternal, unchanging symbol.