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The Japanese Department collections include some 11000 works, offering an extremely rich and diversified panorama of Japanese art since its origins during the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC up until the beginning of the Meiji era (1868).
Following on from the archeological phases of the Jomon (terracotta vases and figurines), Yayoi, and Kofun (haniwa MA 1338, acquired in an exchange with the Tokyo National Museum) cultures, the collections illustrate in particular essential developments in Japanese Buddhist art, the stylistic and iconographic evolution of which is traced from the 8th to the 15th centuries AD through a remarkably comprehensive and prestigious ensemble of sculptures and silk paintings.
Besides this major section of the collections, kakemono, makimono and screens dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries offer an insight into other secular trends in the history of Japanese painting. In particular, the Ukioyo-e (« Pictures of the Floating World »), are represented by a series of almost 3000 prints collected at the beginning of the 20th century by major connoisseurs (Camondo, Koechlin etc.), including « The Plain of Musashi » EO 2007.
Finally, collections of lacquerwork, ceramics (Tea Ceremony stoneware and porcelain), ivories (netsuke) and sword hilts evoke the sheer diversity of the applied arts in Japan.