This is the catalogue of the major exhibition held at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1981-82 covering the fine art and decorative craft of the age of the Tokugawa shoguns - the rulers of Japan from 1615 until the restoration of imperial rule in 1868 - the Edo period.
Edo art reflects the artistic standards and the social life of a richly varied nation whose progress was making obsolete the feudal forms of its earlier history and whose energies and invention laid the foundation of its subsequent meteoric development. For most of the Edo period Japan was virtually sealed off from any contact with foreigners and the complex culture which developed was quintessentially Japanese. The 250 years before Japan's emergence as a modern nation constitute a cultural achievement of enormous breadth and invention which has not hitherto been presented even in Japan on such a large scale. The exhibition is staged with the full support of the Japanese government and constitutes the greatest enterprise of its kind ever contemplated in Japanese cultural relations with foreign countries. The catalogue illustrates all the items in the exhibition, over 120 of them in colour. They include paintings, prints, books, laquered objects, ceramics, metalwork,armour,sculpture,textiles and some items from the short but brilliant Momoyama period which preceed the Edo and bequeethed so much of its tradition. There are introductionary essays on the historical, political and artistic background to the period by leading British and Japanese scholars, as well as a glossary and a comprehensive bibliography. Unprecedented in western publications, the catalogue will be an authoritative and beautiful record of the richly varied art of the Edo period.
Published by Royal Academy of Arts, London in association with Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd, London, 1981 - 1st Edition
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