Masters of Mercy: Buddha’s Amazing Disciples at Freer Sackler

Looking for something to do to beat the heat? If you are in the DC area, the Freer Sackler has a special exhibit closing this weekend!

Masters of Mercy: Buddha’s Amazing Disciples runs through July 8, 2012.

Kano Kazunobu’s (1816-1863) phantasmagoric paintings reflect a popular theme in Edo art: the lives and deeds of the Buddha’s legendary 500 disciples. This exhibition features selections from Kazunobu’s 100-painting series created between 1854 and 1863 for the important Pure Land Buddhist temple Zôjôji.

Little-known and never before displayed outside Japan, Kazunobu’s epic series brilliantly imagines Buddha’s disciples at work in the world.

From 1854 until his death in 1863, Japanese artist Kano Kazunobu (born 1816) labored to produce one hundred paintings depicting the miraculous interventions and superhuman activities of the five hundred disciples of the Buddha.

The project was commissioned by Zôjôji, an elite Pure Land Buddhist temple in Edo (modern-day Tokyo). Now widely regarded as one of the most impressive feats of Buddhist iconography created during the Edo period (1615–1868), this remarkable ensemble was largely overlooked through much of the twentieth century.

A revival of interest began in the 1980s and culminated in a major exhibition in Tokyo in spring 2011, held to commemorate the eight-hundredth anniversary of the death of Hônen (1133–1212), founder of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism. Zôjôji collaborated with the Edo-Tokyo Museum and noted scholars to produce the exhibition, which featured all one hundred paintings along with related works and documentary material. The whole ensemble had not been viewed publicly since World War II.

Preeminent Japanese graphic art collectors Ken and Kiyo Hitch have chosen the Sackler Gallery as the future home for their 20th- and 21st-century Japanese prints. The first in a series of exhibitions to celebrate this gesture, Art of Darkness features approximately 20 prints and related copperplates that show Japanese artists’ innovative uses of the European technique of mezzotint.

The Freer and Sackler Galleries are open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except December 25.

Admission is free.
Questions? Call 202.633.4880