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dc.contributor.advisorFowler, Sherry
dc.contributor.authorWilliams, Elizabeth Ann
dc.description.abstractThe flood of Japanese decorative arts that reached American shores after Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the U.S. Navy compelled the opening of Japan to the West in 1854, initiated a mutually beneficial circuit of exchange that concomitantly enabled both countries to achieve international acclaim for their artistic merit in the field of metalwork. This dissertation explores the momentous technical, stylistic and creative impact that Japanese metalwork had upon the American silver industry in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the equally transformative impact that entry into the American market had upon Japanese metalwork, as the country emerged from international isolation during the Meiji era (1868-1912). The introduction of Japanese design amidst myriad Western revival movements allowed for the emergence of a complete break from the historicized European motifs, forms and iconography to which American silver had been subserviently tied. Leading silver firms, such as the Gorham Manufacturing Company and Tiffany & Co., adopted and adapted Japanese aesthetics and techniques to create visually stunning works, which garnered worldwide recognition and praise not previously achieved. Drawing on the dual traditions of Buddhist bronze casting and Samurai sword making, late nineteenth-century Japanese metalsmiths created works for display at American world's fairs that served to revitalize the Japanese metalworking industry, promote commercial export of Japanese metalwork and internationally showcase the metalworkers' technical and artistic virtuosity, and thus that of the nation's artistic culture as a whole. The beauty of Japanese mixed metalwork encouraged imitative reproductions in America, yet, more significantly, the ingenuity of traditional Japanese metalwork inspired the silversmiths of Tiffany and Gorham to develop a distinctly American realization of Japan's technically challenging processes, producing aesthetically striking results of international hybridity. Equally impossible to conceive would be the international position and critical assessment of Japanese artists and designers in the early twentieth century, without the unequivocal impact of the country's aesthetics on the Western world, especially America. The predominant role of the Japanese metalworker entering a national phase of flux and the international rise of the American silversmith burgeoning beyond its borders converged to produce not only an explosion of innovative design, technology, and industry for both countries, but also an exponential expansion of an admiring international audience, boldly willing to cast aside past traditions, constraints, and biases. A new design was cast, indefinitely and concomitantly altering and transforming the American silver industry and Japanese Meiji metalworkers.
dc.format.extent198 pages
dc.publisherUniversity of Kansas
dc.rightsCopyright held by the author.
dc.subjectArt history
dc.subjectAmerican studies
dc.subjectAesthetic Movement
dc.subjectGorham Manufacturing Company
dc.subjectJapanese metalsmithing
dc.subjectTiffany & Co.
dc.contributor.cmtememberEarle, Susan
dc.contributor.cmtememberCateforis, David
dc.contributor.cmtememberCornelison, Sally
dc.contributor.cmtememberFourny, Diane
dc.thesis.degreeDisciplineHistory of Art

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