Ernest F. Fenollosa Papers
Scope and Contents
The Ernest F. Fenollosa Papers consist of correspondence from Fenollosa and also from others about him that deals with the controversial philosophical views and teaching methods of Fenollosa and Arthur Wesley Dow, both of whom had received tentative offers of employment at Pratt Institute by Frederic Bayley Pratt. Fenollosa discusses his philosophy of art and art education, and letters from Walter Scott Perry, Director of Pratt’s Art Department, and John S. Clark of the Prang Educational Company, provide opinions on Fenollosa and Dow as educators.
- Fenollosa, Ernest, 1853-1908 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to the public.
Conditions Governing Use
For permission to publish, contact the Archivist, Pratt Institute Library.
Biographical / Historical
Ernest Francisco Fenollosa, an American historian, curator, and educator, was born in 1853 in Salem, Massachusetts. He attended Harvard University, earning his degree in 1874, and then spent a year at Cambridge University followed by more study at the art school of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. His subject areas included philosophy, divinity, sociology, and drawing. In 1878 he traveled to Japan to teach political economy and philosophy at Tokyo Imperial University, and it was during his stay in Japan that he became interested in Japanese art and culture. He helped revive the Nihonga or Japanese style of painting with Japanese painters Kano Hogai and Hashimoto Gaho. In addition to studying and collecting art, he was active in restoration initiatives and rendering Japanese art more accessible to the Japanese. He also founded the Tokyo Fine Arts Academy and the Imperial Museum, and drew up the first inventory of Japan’s national treasures, for which he was given honors by Emperor Meiji. In 1886 he sold his art collection to Charles Goddard Weld with the proviso that it reside in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where it formed the basis of the Fenollosa-Weld Collection. Fenollosa became Curator of the Department of Oriental Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which became a focal point for the training of scholars and curators in Asian art. Both he and Arthur Wesley Dow, who in 1893 had become Assistant Curator of Japanese Art at the Boston Museum, were considered for faculty positions at Pratt Institute by Frederic Bayley Pratt in 1895, but because of their controversial views on art and art education, difficulties arose over their appointments and only Dow eventually went to Pratt. In the following year, Fenollosa was dismissed from the Boston Museum as a result of the scandal generated by his divorce and immediate remarriage. He traveled to Japan again for a few years, and then became a professor at Columbia University in 1900, writing, lecturing, and teaching in the United States, and Europe until his death in 1908. Fenollosa’s widow gave his unpublished translations of Chinese poetry and Japanese Noh dramas to Ezra Pound, who reworked them into poetic form and published them in 1915-1917. In addition to establishing the Fenollosa-Weld Collection, Fenollosa was responsible for helping to assemble the core of the Freer Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. He is credited for having furthered an appreciation of Oriental art in the United States and revived interest in Japanese art and architecture in Japan itself.
Source: “Fenollosa, Ernest F.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 2007 Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 1 August 2007 http://search.eb.com/eb/article-92398
0.075 Linear Feet (0.5 box (1 folder))
Language of Materials
Ernest Francisco Fenollosa (1853-1908) was an American historian, educator, and curator, who furthered an appreciation of Oriental art and poetry in the United States and revived interest in Japanese art and architecture in Japan itself. He built several important collections of Oriental art and disseminated his ideas on art and art education through his curatorship at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and his career as a professor, writer, and lecturer. The collection consists of correspondence from Fenollosa and also from others about him that deals with the controversial philosophical views and teaching methods of Fenollosa and Arthur Wesley Dow, both of whom had received tentative offers of employment at Pratt Institute.
The records are contained in only one series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1895
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- Guide to the Ernest F. Fenollosa Papers
- Paul Schlotthauer
- July 2007
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