Harry Packard's Japanese Pots

In 1975, the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired more than four hundred works of Japanese art from collector Harry G. C. Packard (1914-1991), by gift and purchase. The acquisition instantly transformed the Museum into an institution boasting one of the finest collections of its kind in the West, with encyclopedic holdings from the Neolithic period through the nineteenth century. Five Thousand Years of Japanese Art: Treasures from the Packard Collection celebrates the thirty-fifth anniversary of the acquisition of the Packard Collection, showcasing its archaeological artifacts, Buddhist iconographic scrolls, ceramics, screen paintings of the Momoyama and Edo periods, and sculptures of the Heian and Kamakura periods.

The ceramics of the Harry Packard Collection represent the basic canon of Japanese ceramics, which was being formulated during Packard's time in Japan. Curator Louise Court discusses Packard's role in the creation of contemporary American understanding of the Japanese arts, and particularly of Japanese ceramics. Discussing three categories of ceramics that Packard identified as categories worth collecting—Jomon ceramics (Neolithic), Medieval stoneware (twelfth to sixteenth century), and Hizen porcelain made in the town of Arita, (also called shoki Imari, or early Imari)—she contextualizes his impressive collection, and considers the origins of the contemporary understanding of Japanese ceramics.

Lecture by Louise Cort, curator of ceramics, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; introduced by Sinead Kehoe, assistant curator, Japanese Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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