Impressionist masterpieces for the first time in Japan – Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum

Impressionism is an art movement that came to life in France in the latter half of the 19th century. Even now, more than a century later, this art movement continues to fascinate people with its depiction of light. The artworks show one moment in nature as if it were captured by a camera of someone’s soul. For the exhibition “The Genealogy of Light: Impressionist Masterworks from The Israel Museum, Jerusalem” being held at the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo, many valuable works of Impressionists and Post-Impressionists have been brought to Japan for the first time.

This beautiful red brick building is the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo. Lit up at night, the museum looks even more beautiful!

Encounter “Light, Nature, Cities, and People” in four chapters

The current exhibition shows Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces from the collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, which houses an astonishing number of around 500,000 cultural assets and works of art. Of the 69 works on display, including Van Gogh and Monet, 59 have never been shown in Japan!

Exhibition view, Chapter 4: “People and Still Life”
Exhibition view, Chapter 1: “Waterscapes and Reflections”

Organized into four chapters, the selected artworks all capture light in different situations. They show reflections on water surfaces, landscapes, people together with nature, urban landscapes of modern cities as well as portraits and still lifes.

Gustave Courbert “Seascape” (1869)

In the area of ​​Chapter 1 “Water Landscape and Reflection”, you can enjoy paintings of various waterscapes. Some pictures show tranquil lakes sparkling in the sunshine, some show rough sea waves in stormy weather. The way light and shadows are expressed in Impressionism differs from the painting style of the majestic (but sometimes heavy feeling) romantic paintings.

Eugène Boudin “Frigates Approaching the Port” (1984) is displayed over one of the historic fireplaces of Mitsubishi Ichigokan, which opened in the same year, 1894.
Walking through the historic building is always a pleasure when visiting an art exhibition at Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo!


Fun discoveries and unexpected encounters

Paul Gauguin “Landscape with Dog” (1903)

It’s a lot of fun to discover the message hidden by the curators during the artistic journey from the dawn of Impressionism to the birth of Post-Impressionism while visiting the museum.

Camille Pissarro “Sunset at Éragny” (1890)

For example, paintings of a master and his disciple are displayed facing each other, and two paintings that Van Gogh is said to have painted in 1888 – even though the painting style looks quite different – are displayed side by side.

This is the painting style we all recognize as “typical” for Vincent van Gogh, “Harvest in Provence” (1888)
On the other hand, the adjacent “Cornfields and Poppies” is more detailed and painted with rather realistic colors. Recently, art historians have suggested that this painting could have been made in 1887.

One particular artist is drawing attention at this exhibition. Born in East Prussia (now Poland) of Jewish descent, Lesser Ury was active primarily in Germany. His works show dark sceneries of night and dusk, but often with a hint of a bright light somewhere. In this sense, his pictures stand out from the other works in the exhibition, which are mostly painted in pastel or vivid color schemes.

A work depicting the city of Berlin, known for its cold and gray skies. Lesser Ury “Winter Day in Berlin” (Mid-1920s)
Berlin’s entertainment district “Potsdam Square by Night” (Mid-1920s) where wet asphalt reflects the lights of nearby stores.


Themed dessert inside a beautiful cafe

The hall which uses the restored space that used to be a bank office has a high ceiling and the classic wooden interior is very chic.

At the museum cafe/bar “Café 1894”, you can enjoy two tie-up menus that match the theme of the ongoing exhibition.

Tie-up lunch and tie-up dessert

I had a dessert inspired by Charles-François Daubigny’s work “Apple Trees in Blossom” which is on display inside the exhibition area.

Charles-François Daubigny “Apple Trees in Blossom” (1860-1862)

The combination of bittersweet caramel jelly, savory apples stewed in Calvados, rich chiboust and cream cheese ice cream is truly a masterpiece!

The rose petals are made of thin ​​apple slices.

Don’t miss this fascinating exhibition where you can enjoy Impressionist art with your eyes – and stomach!
Have a nice time at the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo!

“The Genealogy of Light: Impressionist Masterworks from The Israel Museum, Jerusalem”
Period: October 15, 2021 (Friday) – January 16, 2022 (Sunday)

Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo
2-6-2 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps:
Nearest Stations: Tokyo Station, Yurakucho Station, Otemachi Station, Nijubashimae Station, Hibiya Station
*For car parking, please use the “Marunouchi Parking”
(There is a discount service according to the amount spent at nearby shops and restaurants.)