From the museum website, 3 February 2010
This year marks 140th Anniversary since Japan and Austria-Hungary established diplomatic relations in 1869. To celebrate this event, approximately 120 paintings and decorative art works, which formerly belonged to the Habsburg family, now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (Austria) and the Szépmüvészati Múzeum in Budapest (Hungary), will be shown at the Kyoto National Museum. The Habsburgs, who ruled over Europe for over six hundred years, were patrons of celebrated painters, such as Durer (court painter of Maximilian I), Velazquez (court painter for Philip IV of Spain), Rubens (court painter for Archduke Albert of the Netherlands), Raphael, Titian, and Goya, whose sixteenth- and seventeenth-century masterpieces represent the golden age of European art.
The numerous decorative arts and armor that bedecked the Habsburg castles surprisingly correspond in many respects to their Japanese counterparts from the same period. It may be of interest to compare the works from the Kyoto Imperial Palace in last winter’s special exhibition Recalling Great Treasures of Court Culture to this European collection. Treasures of the Habsburg Monarchy also highlights an album of one hundred Japanese paintings (depicting landscapes and scenes of daily life by painters of the time) and two lacquered shelves decorated with makie (sprinkled metal design) presented by Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) to Emperor Franz Joseph (1830-1916) as a token of their friendship. Our curators went to Vienna to survey these works and made new discoveries, which will also be featured during the exhibition.