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
The school of Kōrin (Kōrin-ha) was a loose, self-affiliating lineage of painters who worked with a rich polychrome palette defied by azurite blue, malachite green, and gold to depict motifs drawn from classical literature and painting. Although it originated in imperial Kyoto, the movement of political power to Edo in the 17th century opened up a market for School of Kōrin paintings among newly affluent urbanites in the east who were eager to acquire a patina of classical elegance. In the early 19th century, Edo-born Sakai Hōitsu (1761–1828) set about establishing a new and highly successful branch of the School of Kōrin in his native city, later dubbed Edo Rinpa. Its export to Europe in the late 19th century had a seismic impact, catalyzing the development of art nouveau. Today, it is clear that Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716), for whom the lineage was named, in fact took his inspiration from the work of Tawaraya Sōtatsu (active c. 1600–1640), the gifted and influential proprietor of a Kyoto fan shop.