The Temple Court of Fudo Sama at Meguro, Tokyo (Primary Title)

Robert Frederick Blum, American, 1857 - 1903 (Artist)

oil on canvas
United States
Unframed: 27 × 19 7/8 in. (68.58 × 50.48 cm)
Framed: 44 1/2 × 37 3/4 in. (113.03 × 95.89 cm)

Arriving in Tokyo in 1892 on assignment for Scribner’s magazine, Robert Blum became one of the earliest American painters to visit Japan, a country with design principles that had long fascinated Western artists. Here, in the first major oil from his two-year stay, Blum focuses on Japanese architecture, sculpture, and ornament, paying tribute to the culture’s refined craftsmanship while communicating its vitality to an American audience.

Blum described the practical difficulties he encountered in painting this picture of the Buddhist temple and its “magnificent” woodwork on canvas—from the long journey by “jurickshaw” to atmospheric challenges such as shifting light and high winds. His commitment to painting the scene on-site reveals his absorption of impressionist plein-air (outdoor) methods. The composition’s sharply fragmented angles and flattened space also suggest Blum’s ongoing study of Japanese prints, which greatly informed impressionism in both France and America.

The painting retains its highly elaborate original frame, selected by the artist to echo and enhance the decorative patterns he rendered on canvas.

signed at lower right: "Blum"
J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art
JapanAmerica: Points of Contact, 1876 – 1970, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, August 27 – December 18, 2016; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA, February 12 – May 21, 2017

The Orient Expressed: Japan's Influence on Western Art, 1854 - 1918, Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, Mississippi, February 12 - July 10, 2011

America Around 1900: Impressionism, Realism, and Modern Life, VMFA, June 14 - September 17, 1995

An Exhibition of Works by Robert Blum (1857 - 1903), Carnegie Institute, Department of Fine Arts, Pittsburgh, 1923

Memorial Loan Exhibition of the Works of Robert Blum, Berlin Photographic Company, New York, 1913

Society of American Artists Annual Exhibition, New York, 1893

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.