Seminar in the History of Collecting: ‘A most distinguished collector and patron’ – Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Japanese Art, 1869–1900
Speaker: Rachael Peat (Assistant Curator of Non-European Works of Art, Royal Collection Trust, London)
Abstract: Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Alfred, was the first royal visitor to Japan. In 1869, aged just 26, he was received by the Emperor Meiji in the resplendent setting of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace where tea was served and diplomatic gifts presented. The meeting ushered in a new era of collecting and artistic exchange, made possible by Japan’s dramatic ‘re-opening’ to the West 15 years previously. During his visit, the young prince acquired a dazzling range of lacquer, arms and armour, netsuke, bronzes, porcelain and paintings, becoming one the foremost collectors of contemporary Japanese art in Britain.
This lecture will explore the important works acquired by the prince and their subsequent exhibition in London, Glasgow and Dublin. It seeks to shed new light on this often-overlooked royal collector, highlighting the central role his rich Japanese collection played in shaping royal furnishing and public taste.
Rachel Peat is Assistant Curator of Non-European Works of Art at Royal Collection Trust. She is editor of Japan: Courts and Culture (published May 2020), the first publication dedicated exclusively to Japanese art in the Royal Collection, and curator of the exhibition of the same name, which will open at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace in spring 2022.