Painting of the Realm

The Kano House of Painters in Seventeenth-Century Japan

Yukio Lippit

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  • Published: 2012
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / Japan; Art History / Asian Art
  • Bibliographic information: 344 pp., 87 illus., 80 in color, 7 x 10 in.
  • Contents

Winner of the John Whitney Hall Book Prize
Winner of the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award

In this eloquent and far-ranging work, Yukio Lippit explores the seventeenth-century consolidation of Japanese painting by the famed Kano painting house, whose style evolved from the legacy of Zen monk-painters of the medieval era and intertwined Chinese with native Japanese practices. Legitimacy was transmitted from master to disciple in a manner similar to that in religious traditions. Lippit illuminates the role of key factors - bequeathal of artworks, authentication of art, painting in the mode of famous masters, collections of art, and the use of art in governance - in establishing the orthodoxy of the Kano painters and their paramount role in defining Japanese painting.

The Painting of the Realm is pathbreaking in its analysis of the discursive operations of the Kano school and its posing of large questions about painting that exceed narrow artist-centered, formalist analysis. Lippit has undertaken a bold and dense study of painting production and reception, presenting original and compelling interpretations.
Yukio Lippit is Harris K. Weston Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University.
Preface and Acknowledgements
A Note to Readers


1. The Heirloom Painting

2. House Manners

3. The Modal Album

4. The Surrogate Signature

5. Painting of the Realm


"Contribute[s] to the study of early modern Japanese painting in [its] reframing of some of the most salient issues."
-Matthew P. McKelway, The Art Bulletin

"Lippit's clear prose makes Painters of the Realm accessible to specialist and nonspecialist alike. The novel answers he provides... not only nuance our understanding of cultural construction within the unique context of early modern Japan, but also suggest ways that this early modern Japanese example might reframe or challenge normative genealogies of 'art,' 'the artist,' and 'national culture'..."
-2014 Charles Rufus Morey Book Award Jury, College Art Association