Meeting Tessai: Works by Tomioka Tessai from the Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection
The exhibition ‘Meeting Tessai: Modern Japanese Art from the Cowles Collection’ is the first of two shows at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (the Smithsonian Institution’s national museum of Asian art) highlighting a transformative gift of more than 260 works from Seattle-based collectors Mary and Cheney Cowles. ‘Meeting Tessai’ brings together works gifted or promised to the Freer and Sackler, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Portland Art Museum. On view at the Sackler, the exhibition celebrates the collecting activities of the Cowleses, who arguably brought together the most significant private collection of works by Tomioka Tessai (1836–1924) and Ōtagaki Rengetsu (1791–1875) worldwide. The gift, focusing on Chinese-informed traditions such as literati painting and calligraphy from the Edo period (1603–1868) to the Shōwa era (1926–89), marks a groundbreaking addition to the museum’s collections as the Freer Gallery of Art approaches its centenary in 2023.