Japanese painting is one of the oldest and most highly refined of the Japanese arts, encompassing a wide variety of genre and styles. As with the history of Japanese arts in general, the history Japanese painting is a long history of synthesis and competition between native Japanese aesthetics and adaptation of imported ideas. Japanese printmaking especially from the Edo period exerted enormous influence on Western painting in France during the 19th century.
The origins of painting in Japan date well back into Japan’s prehistoric period. Simple stick figures and geometric designs can be found on Jōmon period pottery and Yayoi period (300 BC – 300 AD) dotaku bronze bells. Mural paintings with both geometric and figurative designs have been found in numerous tumuli from the Kofun period and Asuka period (300-700 AD).
List of National Treasures of Japan (Paintings)
The term “National Treasure” has been used in Japan to denote cultural properties since 1897. The definition and the criteria have changed since the inception of the term. These paintings adhere to the current definition, and were designated national treasures when the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties was implemented on June 9, 1951. As such, they are restricted in transfer and may not be exported.
An illustrated Scroll From the Tale of Genji
Illustrated Biography of Prince Shōtoku
Illustrated Biography of the Priest Ippen
Pigeon On a Peach Branch
Imperial Guard Cavalry
Illustrated Sutra of Cause and Effect
Heiji Monogatari Emaki (illustrated stories about the Heiji Civil War)
Ten Advantages and Ten Pleasures of Country Life
Genji Monogatari Emaki
Other Examples of Japanese Traditional Paintings & Art
Japanese-style painting (nihonga) continues in a prewar fashion, updating traditional expressions while retaining their intrinsic character. Some artists within this style still paint on silk or paper with traditional colors and ink, while others used new materials, such as acrylics.
Many of the older schools of art, most notably those of the Edo and prewar periods, were still practiced. For example, the decorative naturalism of the rimpa school, characterized by brilliant, pure colors and bleeding washes, was reflected in the work of many artists of the postwar period in the 1980s art of Hikosaka Naoyoshi. The realism of Maruyama Ōkyo’s school and the calligraphic and spontaneous Japanese style of the gentlemen-scholars were both widely practiced in the 1980s. Sometimes all of these schools, as well as older ones, such as the Kano school ink traditions, were drawn on by contemporary artists in the Japanese style and in the modern idiom. Many Japanese-style painters were honored with awards and prizes as a result of renewed popular demand for Japanese-style art beginning in the 1970s. More and more, the international modern painters also drew on the Japanese schools as they turned away from Western styles in the 1980s. The tendency had been to synthesize East and West. Some artists had already leapt the gap between the two, as did the outstanding painter Shinoda Toko. Her bold sumi ink abstractions were inspired by traditional calligraphy but realized as lyrical expressions of modern abstraction.
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