Art is divine

Cernuschi the Extreme Traveller

by Micha Christos



From October 6 2023 to February 4 2024



Return from Asia

A collector

during the time of Japonism

According to Du Jin (active from 1465 to 1505), Poets and Immortals. Ming dynasty (1368-1644), China.

Ink and colors on paper. H.38.6 cm; L.53.55 cm. M.C. 4655. Bequest of Henri Cernuschi, 1896

© Paris Museums / Cernuschi Museum

Émile Reiber (1826-1893) for Christofle et Cie, Vase Deux Poissons, 1874.

Golden copper alloy, cloisonné enamel, colored glass cabochons.

H.39.5 cm; L.23.4cm; D.14 cm. Musée d’Orsay, donation from Society of Friends of the Museum

d’Orsay (SAMO), 2019 © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt








The "Return from Asia" exhibition, presented from October 6, 2023 to February 4, 2024, invites visitors to follow in the footsteps of Henri Cernuschi, from his trip to the Far East to his return to Paris where he created one of the very first museums of Asian art.

A visionary collector, Henri Cernuschi (1821-1896) was of Italian origin. This economist, financier famous for his monetary theories, had gone into exile in France for political reasons.

This friend of Zola, Gambetta and Sarah Bernhardt sees the 150th anniversary of his return from Asia celebrated by a superb exhibition in his eponymous museum.

Following in Cernuschi's footsteps, visitors discover his many acquisitions made throughout his travels in Japan, China, Indonesia, Ceylon and India even as Jules Verne published his "Around the World in 80 days”.

Mañjusri riding a lion. Ming dynasty (1368-1644), 15th century, China.

Gilded bronze. H.77.4 cm; L.57cm; D.26.6 cm. M.C. 519. Henri Cernuschi Bequest, 1896

© Paris Museums / Cernuschi Museum

Collection of traditions of the past  (Kokon chomon ju).

Edo period (1603-1868),

late 17th century, Japan. Ink, colors and gold on paper.

H.22.5 cm; L.16 cm. M.C. 4738Henri Cernuschi bequest, 1896

© Paris Museums / Cernuschi Museum

Incense burner in the shape of a deer. 18th-19th century, Japan.

Bronze. M.C. 2055. Henri Cernuschi Bequest, 1896

© Paris Museums / Cernuschi Museum






From 1871 to 1873, nearly 5,000 works of art - bronzes, ceramics, paintings, prints, lacquered and carved wooden objects, photographs or illustrated books sailed the oceans to Paris.

These works of art thus brought together immediately fascinated the artists and craftsmen of the time and became models for a whole generation of creators in Europe.

The Asian temple of Cernuschi inspired the painter Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) and Émile Reiber (1826-1893), director of the Christofle drawing workshops. This considerable influence will last until the first decades of the 20th century, as evidenced by the production of the animal sculptor François Pompon (1855-1933).










Never exhibited since 1930, his Japanese dragons have been restored and are presented on the occasion of this superb exhibition in Cernuschi's former private mansion erected in the Parc Monceau district in 1875. On his death in 1896, he bequeathed his home and his collections to the City of Paris to become the Museum of Asian Arts which will open to the public in 1898.


Discoverer of rare beauties, sensitive precursor and pioneer far ahead of his century, Henri Cernuschi continues his journey for eternity.



François Pompon (1855-1933), Grand Duke, 1929-1932. Bronze, black patina with green reflections

H.52 cm; L.23 cm; D.18 cm. Orsay Museum, Pompon family bequest, 1933

© Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / A. Morin / Gallimard

Sculpture of Japanese dragons before restoration

(detail). Edo period (1603-1868), Japan. Drink. L.12m

© Cernuschi Museum