Samurai features +100 exquisite objects related to the legendary Samurai warriors drawing from the rich and renowned Japanese collection of the Museo Stibbert located in Florence Italy, narrating the period from 1185-1868 when Japan was ruled by the samurai military class that embodied the ideals of and lived by the code of Bushido.
The exhibition unfolds in sections organized according to the typology of the objects – full suits of armor, helmets, swords, sword guards, saddles to be sure – but also exquisite objects intended for more personal use such as lacquered writing boxes and incense trays; delicate works of art such that portray a by-gone way of life. A series of suggestive graphic panels accompany the objects and the visitors. Not only do the panels provide informative text regarding the history of the samurai and the objects on view, but they also serve to enhance the exquisite details of the craftsmanship hidden in the objects.
Highlights of the exhibition include 3 exquisite helmets by Ryoei, one of the most famous and talented helmetmakers. Only about 20 works attributed to Ryoei have survived; 6 of those are at the Museo Stibbert, and 3 on display in the exhibition.
Suit of Armor
Late 18th century – beginning of the 19th century
Steel, leather, lacquer, wood, horsehair, silk, silk brocade
Suit of armor
First half of the 18th century
Steel, gilded copper, lacquer, horsehair, leather, silk, silk brocade
Second half of the 16th century
Steel, brass, copper alloy, leather, silk, hemp
End of the 17th century
Sword Guard (Tsuba)
Mid 18th century
Steel, gold, silver
First half of the 17th century
Wood, gold, mother-of-pearl, lacquer, reed, lacquered leather, silk
Steel, gold, silver, copper alloy, wood, lacquer, silk, stingray skin
Mid 17th century
Red oak, lacquer, mother-of-pearl, gold, hemp, silk
2nd half of 18th century
3rd quarter of 19th century
Wood, lacquer, silver