ASIA212Varley

47 it depicts eighteen women engaged in various

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Unformatted text preview: e style, the most significant art form to evolve during the Momoyama epoch was genre painting. Genre scenes—that is, portrayals of people in their everyday activities—can be found in Yamato pictures from the Heian period on and are particularly common Fig. 45 Pine Trees Screen by Hasegawa Tòhaku (Tokyo National Museum) The Country Unified 157 in the later horizontal scrolls of the medieval era. Yet, for the most part, the genre scenes in these scrolls have been placed within the context of running narratives and were not intended to stand alone as depictions of how people of the age characteristically behaved. A major exception is a scroll reputedly painted at the end of the Heian period (although only copies done many centuries later in the manner of the original survive today) entitled “Important Events of the Year” (nenjû-gyòji), which shows Heian aristocrats in the cycle of elegant activities that filled their social calendars. Because the “Important Events” scroll deals only with courtiers, however, its value as social history is limited. True genre art, picturing all classes at work and play, did not appear in Japan until the sixteenth century. The oldest extant genre painting of the sixteenth century is a work, dating from about 1525, called “Views Inside and Outside Kyoto” (rakuchû-rakugai zu). Done on a pair of six-panel screens, it provides a bird’seye, panoramic scene of the capital and its environs. Temples, mansions of the elite, mountains, and other famous points of interest in and about the city are clearly distinguishable, and people can be seen everywhere, promenading on the streets, relaxing in courtyards, visiting temples, carrying goods for sale and delivery, and attending the innumerable shops and stalls that stretch in rows along the busy thoroughfares. Because of the picture’s obvious stress on the bustling commercial life of the city, a number of scholars have speculated that it was either produced or commissioned by merchants anxious to...
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