Explores the collecting and exhibition practices of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, which set a standard for the display of Asian art in museums worldwide. Scholars such as Edward Morse and Ernest Fenollosa, funded by “Brahmin” patron-scholars such as William Sturgis Bigelow and Percival Lowell, provoked European Japanists into debates over the authenticity and excellence of Japanese prints and ceramics that foregrounded the Bostonians’ creation of a canon of Japanese art and religion associated with masculine aristocracy. Challenges to these gendered hierarchies came in the form of novels and, most dramatically, from Isabella Stewart Gardner’s collection of East Asian art, closed to the public and dispersed after her death.
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