5 The Artistic Legacy of Yōgen’in, A Mortuary Temple Sponsored by Women in Early Modern Kyoto

in Gender, Continuity, and the Shaping of Modernity in the Arts of East Asia, 16th–20th Centuries
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Female sponsors funded and oversaw the establishment of Yōgen’in, a Kyoto Zen temple that is a prime case of “matronage” in Japanese art. At Yōgen’in, three elite women conducted memorial services for their illustrious warrior ancestor Asai Nagamasa, who had taken his life in 1573 after failing to repel an attack on his home domain. Yōgen’in’s first sponsor was Nagamasa’s daughter Yododono (1567–1615), consort of the leading warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In 1594, Yododono ordered the temple’s construction in memory of her father. Soon after its completion Yōgen’in was destroyed in a fire, but another of Nagamasa’s daughters, Oeyo (1573–1626), provided funds for its reconstruction. Oeyo was married to the second Edo shogun Tokugawa Hidetada. Later, Eyo-no-kata’s daughter, the young empress Tōfukumon’in (1607–78), sponsored services at Yōgen’in for her grandparents and parents. Esteemed artists Kano Sanraku and Tawaraya Sōtatsu painted panels and doors for the temple’s interior in about 1623. In the Main Hall of Yōgen’in are Sōtatsu’s paintings of pines and exotic animals, which may be his earliest extant large-scale paintings. 

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