The exhibition ‘Japanomania in the Nordic Countries 1875-1918’ opened this week at Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki.
The exhibition consists of 80 design artifacts coming from the Design Museum’s collection and it is the biggest lend of pieces for the Japanomania exhibition. A major part of the borrowed pieces is part of Herman Frithiof Antell collection (1847-1893), owned by Design Museum.
H.F. Antell Collection consists of 13th century Persian tiles, ceramics of various periods from Japan, China, Italy, France, Germany and Sweden and silver objects from the 17th century onwards.
Herman Antell (1847-1893)
After inheriting the considerable fortune of his father, Honorary Privy Councillor Herman Rosenberg (1798-1874), Herman Frithiof Antell who had graduated with a degree in medicine, devoted his life to collecting. He settled in Paris, where he came to know Nordic artists in the city and members of museum and cultural circles. Antell was particularly interested in collecting art, coins and medals. On his travels to far-off destinations he was fascinated by foreign cultures and also acquired ethnographic artefacts for his collection.
Antell’s bequest has resulted in significant additions to the collections of three main museums in Finland, the Ateneum Art Museum, the National Museum of Finland and the Design Museum. With the funds donated by Antell, a remarkable amount of high-quality pieces of international and Finnish decorative arts were accquired to the collections of the Design Museumin the beginning of the 20th century.
Here is an example of one of the amazing piece from Antell’s Collection: a Katagami, a traditional Japanese fabric printing stencil, 19th c. paper, hair, wood. Made in Japan. H 690 mm.
Katagami is the Japanese craft of making paper stencils for dyeing textiles. It is designated one of the Important Intangible Cultural Properties of Japan. The art is traditionally centered on the city of Suzuka in Mie Prefecture. Multiple layers of thin washi paper are bonded with a glue extracted from persimmon, which makes a strong flexible brown coloured paper. The designs can be extremely intricate, and consequently fragile. Nowadays the stencils are sometimes sold as artwork, attached to hand fans, or used to decorate screens and doors in Japanese rooms.