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Japanese Garden Seat

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Unknown Artist

Japanese Garden Seat


Bequest of M. Carey Thomas, President of Bryn Mawr College, 1894-1922

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: Deanery.185
W.139 (Wyndham No.)
Asia, Japan
Furnishings and Furniture; Furniture; Chair
Culture/Nationality: Japanese
Collection: Deanery Collection

Bryn Mawr College, Wyndham Alumnae House, 1st Floor

Small ceramic stool or table (tabouret). Roughly barrel-shaped with two raised bands – one near the top and the other near the bottom. On either side are two holes surrounded by a raised area, presumably handles. The entire tabouret is a mottled red-brown-blue color. The top is flat with a spiral design.

Increased interest in and inspiration from Japanese art in the 19th century can be connected with the shift in social, economic, and political relations between America and Japan. From 1633-1853, Japan’s strict isolationist policy limited contact with foreigners. Over the course of 1853-1854, however, an American embassy coerced the Japanese government to adopt a treaty that would open Japan to foreigners. The influx of Japanese goods after the treaty exposed American artists to Japanese art and design. An example of the incorporation of these new artistic influences is the work of the American artist, Lockwood de Forest (1850-1932), at Bryn Mawr’s Deanery. The celebrated Blue Room in particular had gold designs that de Forest stenciled on the ceiling reminiscent of Japanese textiles, and the spiked flowers of the Japanese pagoda tree were the model for the stencil designs on the sofa and daybed. The tabouret is a Japanese Garden seat purchased by M. Carey Thomas, the first dean and second president of Bryn Mawr College, from de Forest.

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