Let's Party! Genre Paintings in Early Edo Japan

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    Anonymous. 'Festival at Sumiyoshi Shrine,' Japan, Edo period (1615-1868), 17th century. Handscroll; ink, color and gold on paper. Gift of the Robert Allerton Fund, 1960 (2789.1)

January 17, 2013 - May 12, 2013
Honolulu Museum of Art

Exhibition Overview

Japan Gallery

The unprecedented peace and prosperity of the 17th to 18th centuries elevated fūzokuga, literally “paintings of popular customs” (also known as genre paintings), to new heights. What eminent art historian Penelope Mason has described as “a fundamental Japanese interest in human beings, their activities, and their surroundings” can be traced back to the Heian period (794-1185). At the same time, as wealth spread more broadly among different social classes, starting in the 17th century, people had more time for leisure, and the arts and culture became available to a wider audience. Depictions of various types of entertainment, such as dance, music, theater, and, above all, the many festivals that punctuated the movement of the seasons through the course of the year, became pervasive in the arts. Consequently, we can look back upon the Edo period with greater insight than any other time in Japanese history, sharing in the moments that colored people's lives with joy and celebration centuries ago.