Japanese Arts Part 4

Edo period


The great teachers of the tea ceremony, Sen no Rikyū and Kobori Enshū (* 1579, † 1647), worked as masters of aesthetics. Restrained simplicity of form, as required by the tea ceremony, was particularly evident in garden art and ceramics (chaki). This originated under the influence of Korean pottery workshops on Kyūshū and in the ceramic centers established since the Kamakura period such as Shigaraki and Bizen. The production of raku-yaki began in Kyoto.

Textile art shows great splendor, v. a. in the rich nō robes. The Shinto facilities were completely adapted to Buddhist temples.

The Edo period is a 250-year period of peace in which, largely isolated from abroad, a bourgeois art and culture emerged that began in Edo, the new capital of the Tokugawashogune. In the Genroku period (1688–1704) the imperial city of Kyoto still had the cultural preponderance; there, supported by the nobility and the upper classes, the spirit of the Momoyama period continued to have a lasting effect. Even the magnificent mausoleums of the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in Nikkō (Tōshōgūschrein) continued the lush Momoyama style. The actual architecture of the time, however, in addition to new buildings of old or destroyed temples in only insignificantly changed traditional scheme, there are refined, simply designed villas and teahouses (Katsura and Shūgakuin villas in Kyoto). Later interest shifted to representative buildings for the urban bourgeoisie, such as school complexes and theaters for the popular kabuki.

During the early Edo period, decorative painting experienced a new boom with the artists Kōetsu Hon’ami and Sōtatsu Tawaraya. In an ornamental-decorative reshaping of classic Yamato-e themes, they merged image and writing on sheets of poetry (Shikishi), whereby Kōetsu Hon’ami emerged as a writer and Sōtatsu Tawaraya was responsible for the painterly design. Sōtatsu Tawaraya also created monumental pictures on adjustable screens and sliding doors in an innovative painting style completely free from Chinese influences, which was later continued by Ogata Kōrin. Together with his brother, the talented ceramist Ogata Kenzan, Ogata Kōrin founded the Rinpa (Rin School), which created large-format pictures with skillful stylization and was famous for its ceramic, textile and lacquer work. The masters of the Kanō School, most famous Kanō Tanyū (* 1602, † 1674), who was appointed to Edo in 1621,worked as court painters for the Shogunate in Edo. The Tosa Schoolfreed from stagnationby Tosa Mitsuoki (* 1617, † 1691), however, continued to be patronized by the imperial court in Kyoto. The individualist Iwasa Matabei combined the painting style of the Kanō school with the style of the Tosa school. He also excelled in genre painting and is considered a pioneer of ukiyo-e painting.

In the second half of the Edo period, Japanese painting was again determined by Chinese influences: once literati painting became known in Japan (Japanese Bunjin-ga [“painting of the literary figures”] or, with a view to the Chinese model, also Nan-ga [“southern painting «] Called), which corresponded to the Confucian literary inclinations of the time. On the other hand, there was a growing interest in naturalistic representation, inspired by European copper engraving and the colorful academic flower and bird painting of the Ming period, mediated by the Chinese painter Shen Nanpin (Japanese Chin Nampin), who worked in Nagasaki from 1731 to 1733. In the works of the literati painters Yosa Buson and Ike no Taigai, who work in KyotoBoth directions merge into an individual style, while Tani Bunchō, who worked in Edo, also dealt with the techniques of European painting and developed a highly eclectic style of painting. Impressive, naturalistic portraits of scholars and middle-class people have been preserved by Tani Buncho and his student Watanabe Kazan (* 1793, † 1844).

According to commit4fitness, the Maruyama School founded by Maruyama Ōkyo (* 1733, † 1795) was of decisive importance for the Japanese art of the premodern. In his youth, Maruyama Ōkyo created stage-like, perspective-constructed pictures as well as nature studies, which later became the basis of his large-format works. His style of interplay of minute, naturalistic details with the empty space typical of Japanese art brought a new realism to Japanese painting. His student Goshun carried on this tradition and combined it with the lyrical style of Yosa Buson’s literary painting to create the unmistakable style of the Shijō school. Another student of Maruyama Ōkyos, the virtuoso Nagasawa Rosetsu, was one of the three eccentrics of the Edo period, along with Itō Jakuchō (* 1716, † 1800) and Soga Shōhaku (* 1730, † 1781).

Ukiyo-e, the painting of fashion and city life, as it happened in the theater, in the tea house and in Yoshiwara (Edo’s joy district) enjoyed the greatest popularity. Based on mannerist genre pictures (unofficially painted by masters of the Kanō school since the Ashikaga period), the ukiyo-e woodcut became mass art in the 18th century. Hishikawa Moronobu, who also worked as a painter and book illustrator, is considered the founder of this genre. The technique of initially hand-colored leaves (Tan-e) was developed in 1742 by adding two colored plates to the Benizurie. With the invention of the passport stamp by Suzuki Harunobu in 1765, brocade printing (Nishikie) became possible.

Japanese Arts 4