Upon leaving office in March, 1877, President Grant embarked upon a hugely-successful diplomatic mission. Decades later, guidebooks to Japan noted the site of his audience with the Emperor.

John Russell. Around the World with General Grant: A Narrative of the Visit of General U. S. Grant . . . to Various Countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa . . . .. New York: The American News Co., 1879.

Audience with the Emperor in China.

Grant set sail for a trip around the world in May, 1877, and was received by Prince Kung, the regent of China (the seven-year-old emperor being deemed too young for an audience). The artist of this illustration ignored the facts of the event and portrayed Grant's presentation to the boy emperor.

Ulysses S. Grant. Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant. New York: C. L. Webster & Co., 1885-86.

Audience with the Emperor in Japan.

Grant's audience with the Emperor and Empress of Japan gave rise to the story that Japanese palace guards were placed around the reception room with knives at the ready. Had Grant moved his arm in the ordinary American gesture of shaking hands, the guards would have pounced upon him. Grant's understanding of protocol kept him from such a faux pas. In this image, the Emperor wears western military garb.

The Progress of Civilization

In another view from Grant's trip, Japanese gentlemen and children appear in western dress suggesting the caption "The Progress of Civilization," not without irony.

The Nineteenth Century: Americans Look to the East:
The 1876 Centennial Exhibition
Whistler and Japanese Influence
Ernest Fenollosa: Scholar and Source

The Twentieth Century: American Modernists:
Oriental Aesthetics; Leo and Gertrude Stein
Harriet Monroe and the "Imagists"
Ezra Pound and Fenollosa
H.D., Amy Lowell and John Gould Fletcher
Katherine Anne Porter and Arthur Davison Ficke
Witter Bynner
Wallace Stevens
Eastern Themes and Modernist Theater; Eugene O'Neill
Thornton Wilder
William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore
E.E. Cummings and Gertrude Stein

Exhibition Introduction

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