Between 1543 - when Europeans arrived in Japan - and the 1640s, when the country was closed to foreigners, the Japanese had regular contacts with the nanban-jin (Barbarians from the South).
These merchants and missionaries, mainly from Portugal, were the source of a theme in Japanese art in the 16th and 17th centuries. The representations painted on the nanban byobu (folding screens) depict an extraordinary confrontation of civilisations and its beauty is captivating. Through paintings primarily done by the Kano school, the history of Portuguese's arrival in Japan unfolds before our eyes. Sometimes critical, sometimes joyful and festival, the byobu reveal the beginning of Asia's Westernisation. Nanban Folding Screen Masterpieces presents thirteen of these byobu accompanied by text about the fascinating history of the commercial, religious, and cultural encounters between Europe and Japan in this era. This book brings together folding screens from the Nanban Bunkakan Museum of Osaka, the Municipal Museum of Kobe and Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga de Lisboa - where the most important collections of nanban art are found, as well as the Victoria & Albert Museum of London, the Rijksmuseum of Amsterdam, Musée Guimet of Paris, Museu Soares dos Reis in Porto, the Museum of History and Culture of Nagazaki, and the Idemitsu Museum of Tokyo, as well as a folding screen from a private American collection. A specialist in nanban art, Alexandra Curvelo is a professor in the Department of Art History at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Her research focuses on the Christian missions in Japan in the early modern period.
Published by Éditions Chandeigne, Paris, France, 2015
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