Image of The Art of Friendship: Japanese Surimono Prints


The Art of Friendship: Japanese Surimono Prints

In the mid-twentieth century, a selection of refined Japanese woodblock prints known as surimono caught the eye of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty. Sensitive combinations of poetry and image, these prints offer an elegant insight into a world of literary wit and playful allusion.

...a visually sumptuous exhibition of Surimono drawn from the outstanding collection of the Chester Beatty Library.

The word surimono means simply ‘printed thing’. Prepared as gifts for exchange among friends and acquaintances at New Year and on other special occasions, these privately-published prints were products of the flourishing literary culture of Edo Japan.

The surimono commissioned by poetry circles in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries combine short verses composed at poetry gatherings with designs prepared by leading artists. Taking their subjects from the scholar’s desk and the literary canons of Japan and China, surimono embody the eloquence and amity of these cultivated salons and offer a glittering glimpse into a world rich in playful allusion.

Image from the exhibition 'The Art of Friendship: Japanese Surimono Prints'

The most lavish of Japanese prints, the quality and refinement of surimono appealed greatly to Sir Alfred Chester Beatty and he amassed a collection considered one of the finest in the world. 2017 marked the 60th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between Japan and Ireland. As artistic and poetic sentiments shared to mark the passing of time and friendship’s renewal, surimono offered the perfect medium to celebrate this important occasion in a special exhibition.

Supported by the Japan Foundation and the American Friends of the Arts in Ireland.


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Open today 9:45am - 8:00pm

Monday to Friday 9:45am - 5:30pm
Wednesday 9:45am - 8:00pm
Saturday 9:45am - 5:30pm
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Admission is Free
No booking required
Suggested donation €5


Chester Beatty
Dublin Castle
Dublin 2
D02 AD92