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National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

The National Museum of Western Art specializes in art from the Western tradition and is located in the museum and zoo complex in Ueno Park in Taito, central Tokyo. The museum houses about 4,500 works, including examples of painting and sculpture from the 14th through the beginning of the 20th century.

Highlights of the National Museum of Western Art

Tour of the National Museum of Western Art

  • “The Burghers of Calais” by Auguste Rodin
    • “The Burghers of Calais” by Auguste Rodin is one of his most famous sculptures. It commemorates a historical incident during the Hundred Years’ War, when Calais, a prominent French port on the English Channel, was under siege by the English for over a year and was eventually forced to surrender.

      The Hundred Years’ War was a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 by England against France, over the succession to the French throne. Calais overlooks the Strait of Dover, the narrowest point in the English Channel and during this prolonged conflict, England laid siege to Calais. King Philip VI of France ordered the city to hold out at all costs. Philip, unfortunately, failed to lift the blockade and starvation eventually forced the city to surrender.

  • “Water Lilies” by Claude Monet
    • “Water Lilies” by Claude Monet portrays the water-lily pond, from Monet’s garden in Giverny, with the sky and sun reflecting off the lily pond. Monet attempted to capture the continually changing qualities of light, color, water, sky, and lilies by dissolving all the elements in:  “the refuge of a peaceful meditation in the center of a flowering aquarium.”

      Claude Monet painted nearly 250 painting in his series of “Water Lilies”.  The constant changes in the water surface, based on the direction of the sun during the day, the changing seasons and the changing weather continued to sustain Monet’s interest in his water lilies pond. The paintings depict Monet’s flower garden at his home in Giverny and were the main focus of Monet’s artistic production during the last thirty years of his life. Many of the works were painted while Monet suffered from cataracts. His “Water Lilies” paintings can be found in many museums across the globe.

  • “Saint Michael and the Dragon” by Sienese School
    • “Saint Michael and the Dragon” by the Sienese School of the 14th century, is a mystical masterpiece depicting a miraculous event in dreamlike coloration. Saint Michael the Archangel is referenced in the Old Testament and has been part of Christian teachings since the earliest times. He acts as the defender of the Church and chief opponent of Satan; and assists souls at the hour of death.

      Saint Michael fighting the Dragon is part of an Apocalypse as related in the Book of Apocalypse or Revelation of St. John. “Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it.”(Rev. 12:7-9).

National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

  • Name:              National Museum of Western Art
  • Japanese:         国立西洋美術館
  • City:                   Tokyo
  • Country:            Japan
  • Established:     1959
  • Type:                 Art museum
  • Location:          Tokyo, Ueno Imperial Grant Park, Japan

A Tour of Museums in Japan


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Photo Credit: By JoyofMuseums