Museum of Fine Arts Bulletin

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Published Bi-MonthIy by the Museum of

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Entered July 2, 1903, at Boston, Mass.. as Second Class Matter. under Act of Congress of July 16, 1894

Vol.

v

'

Boston,

JUNE,

1907

No. 26

highest degree combine the above requirements, and hence deserve to be placed in the first rank, we find perhaps more examples workmanship o f Ashikaga than o f that o f any other period. Happily in the present exhibition there are a number o f excellent specimens o f the work o f this time. Ashikaga tsuba are generally made o f well-tempered iron more or less perforated in various designs, the metal itself being often purposely so affected by the super-imposition and hammering together of different layers varying in hardness, as to present, after treatment with acids, a surface resembling that o f grained or knotted wood. Inlay with gold or other metals was sometimes sparingly used, but as a rule the artists depended for effect upon the surface texture and rich brown color o f the iron itself. The earlier tsuba artists confined themselves as a rule to the more or less conventional treatment Perforated Iron Tsuba in Heianjo Style Late 17th Century of familiar designs, but as time passed on Monkeys and Pine Tree and technical skill increased, they gradually Exhibition of Tsuba in the Japanese broadened their field of subjects until it included, not only those manifestations o f nature which exCabinet. hibited beauty o f form and movement, but episodes all those adjuncts o f a sword, through the from heroic legend and history, and parables of refined ornamentation o f which the Japanese samurai or knight loved to pay homage to the sacred emblem o f his order, not one was so intimatelyassociated with the blade itself as the tsuba, or guard, for without the guard a sword loses much o f its efficiency. For this reason the great masters of metal work ever turned to the tsuba as a vehicle for the expression o f their highest effort, while the most noted painters gloried in supplying them with designs for its embellishment. In judging the excellence o f a tsuba two main considerations are to be borne in mind: first, its practical adaptability as a part o f the weapon, and, second, its intrinsic beauty as an expression o f artistic endeavor. The practical requirements, governed o f course by the size, shape, weight, etc., o f the blade, are : appropriate shape for the protection of the hand, strength to withstand impact, and sufficient lightness to preserve the proper balance o f the sword. On the artistic side we have to consider: beauty of material, including color and surface tex- Tsubaby Nobujye, Miochin School Late 17th Century ture, beauty and appropriateness of design, and qual- Design in the Form of a Peach, with Leaves partly in Relief and partly Brass Inlay ity of execution. Among those tsuba which in the

(1338-1583)

Of

Both came from Dynasty V. and third pyramids of Gizeh. and intelligent. The most important piece unearthed and acquired is the Dynasty IV portrait head in limestone. the results o f the excavations o f the Museum and o f Harvard University at Gizeh in 1905-1906 are o f enough importance to deserve some special notice in the Bulletin. second. The same is perhaps true o Two works of great interest have been assigned from last year's finds to the Otis Norcross Fund. are more delicate and sensitive than in the ordinary types o f the period. while full. The lips. One piece. is not only remarkable for the plastic skill with which it is executed. a standing pair representing a man and his wife. like the mouth. The nose has been shaved down in a manner which suggests that. is not needed to lend interest to a work like this : its artistic merits give it a high place among Old Empire remains. and the skull is finely shaped. The head is noble and strongly earnest. The Khedival government only allowed the Expedition to send this piece home to the Museum on the surrender o f another statuette o f a similar sort. who perhaps. but for the good preservation o f the coloring as well. . The face is strong. Rarity. The period A Statuette of Ptah-Khenuwi and his Wife Dynasty V to which it belongs was one o f severe and intense energy. refinement and force.20 MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS BULLETIN Statuette Chamber Partially Unroofed Limestone Portrait Head Dynasty IV Sculptures from the Excavations at Gizeh. The head is quite obviously that o f a man o f rank. haughty. however. the piece is o f the greatest interest as belonging to a class so small that at the time of its discovery only four like it were known to be in existence. born o f the newly-sprung national consciousf sculpture is a reness. Although briefly summarized in the last Annual Report. which was the great religious period o f the Old Empire-the epoch which produced the best-known mortuary monuments in the world : the so-called first. The power in this piece o flection o f the power o f the age which produced it. broke the stone as he was carving it. which are strongly in contrast with the usual bullet-headed and rather plebeian type o f the period. it also was at one time finished f the ears. shown in the second cut. 1905-1906. The success of field work is so largely a matter of chance that the Museum has been most fortunate in securing such striking specimens o f Old Empire art. now installed in the New Egyptian Room. The whole piece presents a combination o f character and vigor. At the time o f its discovery the head o f the woman was separated f r o m the body and was lying in the sand under the right hand o f the man. The upper lip has been filled out in plaster by the sculptor. Extrinsically. out in plaster. by a lapsus scalpri.

O. The past winter of 1906-1907 has also been profitable. The other shows the chamber completely unroofed and cleared. the triple group. and the child statuette were found. like the above. may justly feel well satisfied with these almost phenomenal results. therefore. The appeal is here renewed for such an increase in the subscription as will forestall this year the use of Museum capital in its maintenance in 1905 about $20. The standing pair seen in this last photograph went to the Khedival government in exchange for the standing pair assigned to the Norcross Fund. and which. and should be a source o f pride to every Bostonian. and the interest attaching to them is very considerable. but is still far from reflecting the growth of the city since the subscription began.MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS BULLETIN 21 Ikuw and his W i f e Dynasty V Three Boys Dynasty V Two of the cuts picture the statue chamber o f the tomb in which the seated pair. The Expedition o f 1905-1906 secured two other specimens o f Old Empire sculpture besides those described. under unusual conditions o f economy. year by year and day by day. B. Statuette Chamber Unroofed and Cleared . within about $1. are becoming more and more difficult to obtain.000. The annual subscriptions for current expenses of the Museum received in response to the circular issued in March. with t h e figures dimly seen below.000. One o f them shows the chamber partially unroofed. The Annual Subscriptions. The support o f this institution by private generosity alone. are not to be had for money in any market. The number o f subscribersexceedsthat o f last year. All friends o f the Museum.737. and in 1906 nearly $5. and it is safe to predict that any further work on the concession will result in the acquisition o f objects which.000 of the exceptional sum contributed last year. already amount to $16. is the surprise o f those who visit it from abroad.