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Kunsthistorisches Institut

International Symposium: Rethinking the Life and Work of Nagasawa Rosetsu (20-21 October 2018)

General information

The symposium will take place at the University of Zurich on 

Saturday, 20th October 2018 in room KOL-F-101
(University of Zurich main building, Rämistrasse 71, 8006 Zurich)

Sunday, 21st October 2018 in room HAH-E-11
(Häldeliweg 2, 8044 Zurich)

The symposium is free and open to the public, no prior registration is necessary. 

Presentations will be held in Japanese and in English. Texts in English will be supplied for presentations given in Japanese. 

For questions, please contact the Section for East Asian Art:

Symposium abstract

The Japanese painter Nagasawa Rosetsu (1754–1799) has increasingly been a source of interest during the last years from popular and academic audiences with numerous exhibitions in Japan and in the West. Rosetsu has long been a name in Western studies of Japanese art, starting with a groundbreaking exhibition at the Denver Art Museum in 1973 and the publication by Robert Moes from the same year.  Presently he is represented at an outstanding exhibition at the Museum Rietberg, Zurich, that feature key works of the artists, seldom seen outside of Japan. 

Rosetsu has been the center of controversy over a long time, from the different versions of his contested biography to the questions of how to interpret the artist and his work. For decades he has been relegated to a list of eccentric artists, which serves little but to obscure a serious discussion of the artist and his remarkable works. At this time of great popularity and exposure to the public in the East and the West, a rethinking of the artist and his works seems highly overdue.

For this purpose, the University of Zurich has invited the top Japanese scholars who have been working on Rosetsu over the last years. We have planned a two-day conference with presentations and discussions and are inviting both younger and more established scholars, including Professors Yasuhiro Satō and Motoaki Kōno, who has been working on Rosetsu since the 1970s. Among the younger stars in the field, we are inviting Momo Miyazaki and Hideyuki Okada who have recently changed Rosetsu scholarship in significant ways. 

The aim is to gather these scholars and to have them engage with each other and pool their knowledge into meaningful discussions. The expected result of the conference is to spread wider knowledge of this outstanding artist among the scholarly community and among the public. We also hope that discoveries in the life and works of the artist will be a lasting result of this conference.

Symposium program, Saturday 20th October

9:30 – 09:55     Registration

10:00 – 10:15   Welcome from the Organizers
                         Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen
                         (Section for East Asian Art, University of Zurich)
                         with Veronika Probst (Section for East Asian Art, University of Zurich)

10:15 – 15:15   Panel 1: Early Life and Works of Rosetsu (KOL-F-101)
                         Chair: Sabine Bradel, PhD Candidate
                         (Section for East Asian Art, University of Zurich)

10:15 – 11:15    Prof. Dr. Yasuhiro Satō 佐藤康宏 (Professor, University of Tokyo)
                          Rosetsu’s Backlash: Breaking the Ice of Ōkyo
                          Abstract (PDF, 161 KB)

11:15 – 12:15    Takeshi Noguchi 野口剛 (Curator, Nezu Museum, Tokyo)
                          Moonlight and the Return of Sentiment: Nagasawa Rosetsu in       
                          Comparison to His Master Maruyama Ōkyo
「月光」と詩情の回復復 – 師・円山応挙との比較による長沢芦雪に
                          関する考察 –
                          Abstract (PDF, 82 KB)

12:15 – 14:15    Lunch (for speakers and staff)

14:15 – 15:15    Hideyuki Okada 岡田秀之
                          (Curator, Saga-Arashiyama Institute for Japanese Art)
                          On the Early Works by Rosetsu
                          Abstract (PDF, 87 KB)

15:15 - 15:45     Coffee Break

15:45 – 17:45    Panel 2: Rosetsu in Larger Contexts (KOL-F-101)
                          Chair: Prof. Dr. Rossella Menegazzo
                          (Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy)

15:45 - 16:45     Prof. Dr. Nobuo Nakatani 中谷伸生
                          (Professor, Kansai University, Japan)
                          Osaka Painters and Rosetsu
                          Abstract (PDF, 79 KB)

16:45 - 17:45     Keynote Speech
                          Prof. Dr. Motoaki Kōno 河野元昭
                          (Director, Seikadō Bunko Art Museum)
                          Changes in Rosetsu Reception That I Have Observed over the Years
                          Abstract (PDF, 29 KB)

18:00 – 18:30    Welcoming Speeches (KOL-F-101)
                          Prof. Dr. Michael Hengartner (President, University of Zurich)
                          Minister Katsuya Ikkatai (Japanese Embassy)
                          Herbert Haag (President, Swiss-Japan Society)

18:30 ~              Reception (Lichthof)

Symposium program, Sunday 21st October

10:00 - 12:00   Viewing of Works by Rosetsu (Museum Rietberg)

12:00 - 12:30   Transport from Museum Rietberg to the University of Zurich

12:30 – 14:00   Lunch (for speakers and staff)

14:00 – 17:30   Panel 3: Rosetsu and Specific Aspects of His Works (HAH-E-11)
                         Chair: Sara Gianera, PhD Candidate
                         (Section for East Asian Art, University of Zurich)

14:00 – 15:00   Momo Miyazaki 宮崎もも (Curator, Yamato Bunkakan, Japan)
                         On the Finger Paintings of Rosetsu
                         Abstract (PDF, 80 KB)

15:00 – 16:00   Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen
                         (Professor, Section for East Asian Art, University of Zurich)
                         The Kansai Eccentric
                         Abstract (PDF, 33 KB)

16:00 – 16:30   Coffee break

16:30 - 17:30    Tadahito Tsutsui 筒井忠仁 (Curator, Agency for Cultural Affairs)
                         From Nanki to Hiroshima: The Transition of the Nagasawa Rosetsu’s
                         Style and the Transformation of his Spirit

                         Abstract (PDF, 78 KB)

18:00 ~             Farewell dinner for speakers and staff

Impressions from the symposium

The symposium is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), the Swiss-Japanese Society, the University of Zurich Foundation (Hochschulstiftung) and the European Association for Asian Art and Archaeology (EAAA):


SNF logo


SJG logo


UZH Foundation logo
EAAA logo


Weiterführende Informationen

Rosetsu: Landscape in the Moonlight

Nagasawa Rosetsu (1755–1799), 
Landscape in the Moonlight,
18th century (Edo period), ink on silk.
Egawa Museum of Art, Japan.