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Unformatted text preview: introduction of Western pictorial art to Japan in the form of oil painting
and copper engraving. The Jesuits were especially anxious to provide
votive pictures for newly established Christian churches and for individual
converts to Christianity who wished to display them in their homes. So
great was the demand for these pictures that it could not be met solely
by the importation of works from Europe, and the Jesuits were obliged
to instruct Japanese artists in Western-style painting. All indications are
that the Japanese learned the foreign style quickly and soon produced the
desired pictures in more than adequate quantity. Yet, regrettably, the
great bulk of such pictures by Japanese artists, as well as those brought
from Europe, was destroyed in the Christian persecutions of the seventeenth century, and we have only a relatively few works remaining from
which to judge Japan’s “Christian art” during and after the period of
Although much of namban art was either iconographic or religious,
there are extant a number of paintings and engravings done in the Western manner of such secular subjects as European cities, landscapes, and
nonclerical people. Some of the latter are shown in portraitlike poses,
but others are depicted in genre scenes performing everyday activities
of work and leisure. These foreign genre pictures are particularly interesting because, as we shall see, it was about this time that the Japanese
evolved a new style of genre painting of their own, a style that led ulti- 150 The Country Unified mately to the famous ukiyo-e or “floating world” pictures of the Tokugawa period.
One kind of Japanese genre painting that dates from the late sixteenth
century is the so-called namban screen. Although designated as namban
because they depict Europeans in Japan, these screens are actually the
creations of Japanese artists working entirely within the native tradition
The namban screens commonly come in pairs and are often very similar in subject matter, one showing the departure of the Portuguese carrack (great ship) from Goa or Macao and the other its arrival at...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13