Introducing the Arthur Tress Collection of Japanese Illustrated Books

Julie Nelson Davis

A 40-minute Zoom webinar followed by 30 minutes of Q&A held on Wednesday, 22 July 2020, 4–5:10 p.m. ET, via Zoom.

In June 2018, photographer Arthur Tress gave his collection of more than 1,400 Japanese illustrated books to the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. In this talk, Davis began by describing how that gift came to Penn, drew its contours, and highlighted some of its masterworks. The collection is one of the largest at any university and includes work ranging from the late seventeenth century through the 1940s. It also includes representative examples of woodblock printing throughout the period, from popular comic novels to kabuki programs, from books on painting to travel guides, erotica, and pattern books, and many, many more. Reflecting on what it means for this to be a “study collection,” Davis discussed how these materials are being employed in focused, object-based teaching, from Rare Book School courses to university instruction. In addition, she discussed how these books are being employed in hands-on classes, as well as in developing an exhibition with students, with both online and print components—and how that project was adapted due to the current pandemic.

Follow the conversation on social media using hashtags #RBSOnline and #RBSTressColl.

This webinar was presented live in July 2020. The session was recorded, and you are invited to watch the recording of the event below via our RBS YouTube channel.


Header image: Various artists, assorted book wrappers for Inu no sōshi (Tale of the Dogs), 1848-1881, Arthur Tress Collection of Japanese Illustrated Books, University of Pennsylvania Libraries.