Arthur Tress and the Japanese Illustrated Book: A Celebration September 29-30, 2022, hybrid at University of Pennsylvania

Linda Chance's picture

Hybrid format including in-person sessions at the Kislak Center Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, 6th floor of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

In 2018 acclaimed photographer Arthur Tress donated over 1200 titles, including many rare volumes from the late 1700s to the 1930s, ranging across artist books, kyōka poetry, erotica, and design, among others, to the Penn Libraries’ Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. In this symposium scholars will discuss the world of Japanese books and collecting. Programming will include a conversation with the collector and the opening of the exhibit Arthur Tress and the Japanese Illustrated Book. The keynote will be delivered by Peter Kornicki, Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies, Cambridge University, author of The Book in Japan: A Cultural History from the Beginnings to the Nineteenth Century and Eavesdropping on the Emperor.

There is a separate registration for Thursday’s talks; the separate registration for Friday’s talks includes the exhibition opening. See and choose “In-Person” or “Online.” You may register for only the exhibition opening at

Program: Thursday, September 29, 3-5 PM, speakers will be Ryoko Matsuba, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, “To open or not to open?”; Laura Nüffer, Colby College, “Coming Home to Roost: The Tress Collection Tsuru no sōshi as a Remedy to Tragedy”; Kyoko Kinoshita, Tama Art University and Philadelphia Museum of Art (remote), "Kaken Research Project on the Arthur Tress Collection at the University of Pennsylvania." Followed by lightning-round introductions of works in the exhibit by catalog editors Eri Mizukane, Nicholas Purgett, and Maria Puzyreva, as well as Caitlin Adkins, Francesda Bolfo, Patrick Carland-Echavarria, Ann Ho, and Derek Rodenbeck, members of the Curatorial Seminars who prepared the exhibition,

Friday, September 30, 9 AM-7 PM, speakers will be Akama Ryo, Ritsumeikan University (remote), “Digital Research Space for Picture Books and Illustrated Books: Effective Use of the Ritsumeikan ARC Database”; Adam L. Kern, University of Wisconsin-Madison (remote), “Stripping Down & Redressing ‘Haiku’ in Erotic Prints (Shunga)”; Ellis Tinios, University of Leeds (remote), From Artist’s Sketches to Printed Image: An Examination of Isai gashiki shita-zu”; Ann Sherif, Oberlin College; “Who Reads Filial Piety Books? The Case of Ehon kobun kōkyō in the Tress Collection”; Andrew Gerstle, SOAS University of London, Emeritus, “Kamigata Surimono and the Performing Arts”; Satoko Shimazaki, University of California, Los Angeles (remote), “Early Modern Print and the Voice of the Theater”; Keynote by Peter Kornicki, “From Ashmead to Tress: The Secrets of the UPenn Collection of Japanese Books” (remote); Shigeru Oikawa, Japan Women’s University, Emeritus, “Kyōsai hyakki gadan in the Arthur Tress Collection”; Jeannie Kenmotsu, Portland Museum of Art, “Flowers, Birds, Insects, Fish: Illustrating Nature in the Tress Collection”; Michael Emmerich, University of California, Los Angeles (remote), “The End of Kusazōshi”; Alessandro Bianchi, Bodleian Library, “Japanese Illustrated Books and Orientalist Bookbinding: The Case of ‘Gillet’ Covers”; Amaury A. García Rodríguez, Director del Centro de Estudios de Asia y África, El Colegio de México, “Selling and Collecting Japanese Illustrated Books in Mexico at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century: José Juan Tablada”

Friday Closing event, 5:30 PM: Collector and photographer Arthur Tress (remote) and Julie Nelson Davis, Exhibition Curator and specialist in ukiyoe, Penn History of Art, in conversation.

A reception and opening of the exhibit will close the symposium. The exhibit will be on view September 29-December 16, 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. Monday to Friday in the Goldstein Family Gallery.

Major sponsorship by the Japan Foundation, with co-sponsorship by Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, the Center for East Asian Studies, Penn History of Art, and the School of Arts and Sciences Faculty Working Group.

For more on the collection, see