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Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection

2020

Harvard Art Museums

Harvard Art Museums
Cambridge, United States

Gallery view of the special exhibition Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection.

Painting Edo — the largest exhibition ever presented at the Harvard Art Museums — offers a window onto the supremely rich visual culture of Japan’s early modern era. Selected from the unparalleled collection of Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg, the more than 120 works in the exhibition connect visitors with a seminal moment in the history of Japan, as the country settled into an era of peace under the warrior government of the shoguns and opened its doors to greater engagement with the outside world. The dizzying array of artistic lineages and studios active during the Edo period (1615–1868) fueled an immense expansion of Japanese pictorial culture that reverberated not only at home, but subsequently in the history of painting in the West. In an act of extraordinary generosity, the Feinbergs have promised their collection of more than three hundred works to the Harvard Art Museums.

Orthodoxy
The Kano house, by virtue of its association with the ruling class, was the premier painting lineage of early modern Japan. The movement of political power from Kyoto to Edo in the early 17th century fostered the growth of new Kano studios in the east of the country. As socially elite “painters-in-attendance” to the shoguns and regional overlords, Kano painters provided monumental paintings in a palette of rich mineral colors on gold. This official repertoire was dominated by historical Chinese themes rather than domestic Japanese imagery. Compositions and painting techniques were passed down from master to pupil within a carefully regulated studio structure using closely guarded copybooks. In this way, Kano painters maintained their supremacy until the mid-18th century, when increasing numbers of unaffiliated painters began to emerge.

Details

  • Title: Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection
  • Date Created: 2020
  • Credit Line: Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection was made possible by the Robert H. Ellsworth Bequest to the Harvard Art Museums, the Melvin R. Seiden and Janine Luke Fund for Publications and Exhibitions, the Catalogues and Exhibitions Fund for Pre-Twentieth-Century Art of the Fogg Museum, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Thierry Porté Director’s Discretionary Fund for Japanese Art, and the Japan Foundation. The accompanying print catalogues were supported by the Harvard Art Museums Mellon Publication Funds, including the Henry P. McIlhenny Fund.
  • Rights: © President and Fellows of Harvard College
  • External Link: Harvard Art Museums

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