Louvre with apologies to Hokusai

Every year, a small number of Japanese tourists in Paris are struck by an extreme form of culture shock. This psychological distress, caused by the gap between the idealised, romantic image of the French capital, and the reality of the noisy, dirty city, is known as “Paris Syndrome”, and at one point, the Japanese embassy was even running a 24-hour hotline for distressed citizens requiring assistance.

Next year, however, Paris comes to Tokyo, as some of the finest masterpieces of the Louvre museum are to be shown at the National Art Center, Tokyo. The exhibition is entitled ‘Louvre Museum: Genre Painting – Scenes from Daily Life’, and will be the first Louvre exhibition in Japan for six years.

Genre painting refers to art that takes everyday life as its subject. The exhibition will bring a sizeable selection of works from the Louvre’s huge collection, and promises to traces the development of genre painting from the Renaissance to the mid-19th century.

Among the collection is Vermeer’s ‘The Astronomer’, which has a fascinating and chequered history. The painting dates from around 1668, but we have no records of where it was, or who first owned it until fifty years later when it was sold at an unknown collector’s sale in Rotterdam. In the 1880s it was sold again to a member of the House of Rothschild, a wealthy French family, from whose collection the painting was seized by a Nazi taskforce in 1940.

▼ The Astronomer’, Johannes Vermeer

In 1983, ‘The Astronomer’ was acquired by the French state in lieu of inheritance tax from the Rothschilds, and it has been on display at the Louvre ever since. Next year’s exhibition in Tokyo will be the first time Vermeer’s masterpiece has been shown in Japan.

‘Genre Painting – Scenes from Daily Life’ isn’t all about Vermeer, though. The exhibition will be made up of approximately 80 works spanning four centuries, including works by Tiziano, Rembrandt, Murillo, Watteau, Chardin, and Millet.

▼ ‘The Five Senses’, by Lubin Baugin

▼ ‘The Young Beggar’, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

▼ ‘Woman Drinking with Soldiers’, by Pieter de Hooch

The exhibition will run from February 21 to June 1, 2015 at the National Art Center, Tokyo. Tickets are 1,600 yen (US$15) for general adult admission, with discounts available for concessions and advance/group bookings.

Sources: National Art Center TokyoNTVFashion Press
Featured image: Flickr/ijansch and Wikipedia/Hokusai, edited by RocketNews24
Other images: Wikipedia (1, 2, 3, 4)