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.
School of Kōrin
“Rinpa” is the word most often used today to describe a mode of painting distinctive for its engagement with classical Japanese painting and literature, the generous use of precious mineral pigments and metals, and graphic qualities that made it highly adaptable to ceramics, lacquer, and textiles. In the Edo period, however, it was known as Kōrin-ha, or School of Kōrin, for its supposed progenitor, Kyoto-born Ogata Kōrin (1658-1716). Yet School of Kōrin painters were not part of an official Kano-style academy. Instead, most affiliated themselves by respectfully copying historical masters whom they had never met. Embedded within their visually striking works is an enriching art historical self-consciousness expressed through the creative repetition of hallmark motifs and techniques.