Catalogue from the exhibition held at the National Gallery of Art, Washington from 15 November 1998 through 15 February 1999.
"'Edo' is not a name that prompts instant recognition in the West, yet it deserves to be better known. It refers both to the city of Edo - now called Tokyo - and to a time period, from 1615 through 1868, during which fifteen generations of Tokugawa shogun, or feudal overlords, ruled Japan from this urban capital. The political stability of the period enabled a vibrant popular culture to develop. New styles of artistic expression appeared throughout Japan, in elaborate screen paintings and scrolls, dramatic sculpture and armor, elegant ceramics and lacquers, lively textiles and color woodblock prints. Subject matter once reserved for the aristocracy or samurai was appropriated by the newly affluent merchant class, despite the rigid hierarchical organization of society. Neo-Confucian moralists as well as bitingly satiric humorists contributed to the artistic ferment and cultural discourse. The challenge of assembling a comprehensive Edo exhibition is in doing justice to the richness and abundance of the period. From the beginning the National Gallery of Art has had the strong support of the Agency for Cultural Affairs (Bunkacho), Tokyo, through which all registered art objects such as National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties must be lent. Nearly fifty such objects from seventy-five Japanese collections will be included in the exhibition. Among these are many that have never before left Japan, including the legendary Hikone Screen." excerpt from the foreword by Earl A. Powell III, Director, National Art Gallery.
Published by National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1998
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