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Obtaining Images

Art, Production and Display in Edo Japan

The Edo period (1603–1868) in Japan is famous as a time of relative peace and prosperity, a time of rapid urbanization that coincided with a rise in literacy as well as international contact, and—especially—a tremendous flourishing of art. Obtaining Images introduces readers to important artists of this time and the beautiful works that they produced. With historical depth, Timon Screech places these artists within the intellectual milieu of the Edo period, contextualizing their work within the contemporary issues and concepts that surrounded the production, consumption, and display of art during one of Japan’s most culturally robust eras.

Rather than looking at Edo art through a European lens—as many books have already done—this book seeks to understand the making and use of paintings and prints according to Japan’s own cultural and economic forces, elucidating how and why works were commissioned, where they were displayed, and what special properties audiences and buyers attributed to them. Screech explores the complex network of different imperatives and motivations that negotiated different traditions and how these forces resulted in the variety of styles we’ve come to associate with the period. Firmly anchoring the art of Japan within wider Japanese culture, he provides a comprehensive introduction that offers fresh insights for students and general readers alike.

384 pages | 180 color plates, 65 halftones | 7 1/2 x 9 3/4 | © 2017

Art: Middle Eastern, African, and Asian Art

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Obtaining Images is a beautiful book, full of insights on every page. Timon Screech transforms our view of Japanese art, showing it to us through the eyes of the people who made, commissioned, bought, and saw it, and in the process taking us right under the skin of this very different society and mindset.”

Literary Review

Table of Contents

Part I
Legends of the Artists
Auspicious Images
Buying and Selling
The Power of the Image
Part 2
Governing Images: The Kano School
Japanese Painting
Painting Within the Heart
Floating Worlds
Artistic Contact with Europe
Photo Acknowledgements

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