The Eyes of Power: Art and Early Tokugawa Authority

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University of Hawai'i Press, 1999 - Art - 211 pages
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In the first half of the seventeenth century both those who commissioned and those who viewed art in Japan were primarily the elite -- the shogun, the court, high-ranking daimyo, government officials, and certain wealthy merchants. Much of the artistic energy engaged by the political center during the early Tokugawa was directed at the creation of monumental structures decorated with symbolic and complex images, mainly of Chinese origin, initiated or approved by the shogunate to legitimate its own power and to give its rule an aura of cultured sophistication.

In this study of the political thrust behind some of the most important officially sponsored art of the early Tokugawa, Karen Gerhart takes as her focus the heyday of the rule of the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu. She analyzes aspects of painting, architecture, and sculpture created expressly under the patronage of Iemitsu at three major monuments: the castles at Nijo and Nagoya and the sumptuous decoration of the great Tokugawa mausoleum, Nikko Toshogu. In highlighting key examples of artistic production, Gethart brings to the fore significant themes and issues that exemplify political art in the first half of the seventeenth century.

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About the author (1999)

Karen M. Gerhart is professor of Japanese art history at the University of Pittsburgh.

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