Art and Palace Politics in Early Modern Japan, 1580s-1680s


During the first century of Japan’s early modern era (1580s to 1680s), art and architecture created for the imperial court served as markers of social prestige, testifying to the enduring centrality of the palace to the cultural life of Kyoto. Emperors Go-Yōzei and Go-Mizunoo relied on financial support from ruling warlords—Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the Tokugawa shoguns—just as the warlords sought imperial sanction granting them legitimacy to rule. Taking advantage of this complex but oftentimes strained synergy, Go-Yōzei and Go-Mizunoo (and to an unprecedented exent his empress, Tōfukumon’in) enhanced the heriditary prerogatives of the imperial family.
Among the works described in this volume are masterpieces commissioned for the residences and temples of the imperial family, which were painted by artists of the Kano, Tosa and Sumiyoshi ateliers, not to mention Tawaraya Sōtatsu. Anonymous but deluxe painting commissions depicting grand imperial processions are examined in detail. The court’s fascination with calligraphy and tea, arts that flourished in this age, is also discussed in this profusely illustrated volume.
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Biographical Note

Elizabeth Lillehoj (Ph.D., Columbia University) has been teaching the history of Japanese art at DePaul University since 1988. She has published extensively on issues of court and elite warrior patronage of art in early modern Japan, and is the editor of Critical Perspectives on Classicism in Japanese Painting, 1600-1700 and Acquisition: Art and Ownership in Edo-Period Japan (University of Hawai'i Press, 2004).

Review Quotes

Art and Palace Politics in Early Modern Japan is a beautiful produced volume, the second in Brill's Japanese Visual Culture series. Copiously illustrated in color, its plates are inserted throughout the book close to the relevant text rather than placed in a separate section. Its thorough and scholarly treatment of diverse topics relevant to the intersection of politics and elite culture during a vital period of Japan's history make the volume an extremely valuable resource for all students and scholars of Japan. - Journal of Japanese Studies 40:1 (2014)


University students and specialists in the history of Japanese visual culture, history of premodern Japan, especially issues related to the emperor and military leaders, also gender studies and issues of women’s patronage of art.

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