A jewel-like collection of the most exquisite cherry blossoms in Japanese art celebrates the enduring power of spring. Drawn from the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian's museums of Asian art, these rare reproductions of gilded screens, woodblock prints, and ink on silk works offer sublimely rendered buds and blooms for all who cherish them. Since the eighteenth century, parties in Japan, from royal maidens to farmers, have gathered to view cherry trees, an essential symbol of the cycle of life. The flowers feature prominently in Japanese art; magnificent renderings by masters—including Hiroshige and Hokusai—show serene blossoms among tall evergreens, at the epicenter of national celebrations, or as surreal showers of petals. In 1912, Japan gifted more than 3,000 of these trees to Washington, D.C., as a symbol of friendship between nations. Today, we celebrate cherry blossom festivals across the United States and the world and see our cities framed by blossoming branches that herald spring. Text by the Freer|Sackler’s senior curator of Japanese art James T. Ulak explores this flowering tree’s timeless appeal and deep-rooted symbolism.
In association with the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.