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250 × 190 × 30 mm
384 pages
245 illustrations, 180 in colour
01 Feb 2012
  • £35.00

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Obtaining Images Art, Production and Display in Edo Japan Timon Screech

The Edo period (1603-1868) witnessed one of the great flowerings of Japanese art. Towards the mid-seventeenth century, the Japanese states were largely at peace, and rapid urbanization, a rise in literacy and an increase in international contact ensued. The number of those able to purchase luxury goods, or who felt their social position necessitated owning them, soared. Painters and artists flourished and the late seventeenth century also saw a rise in the importance of printmaking. There were dominant styles and trends throughout Japan, but also those peculiar to specific regions, such as the Kanto (Edo) and the Kamigata (Osaka and Kyoto) and, more remotely, Nagasaki.

Obtaining Images introduces the reader to important artists and their work, but also to the intellectual issues and concepts surrounding the production, consumption and display of art in Japan in the Edo period. Rather than looking at these through the lens of European art, the book contextualizes the making and use of paintings and prints, elucidating how and why works were commissioned, where they were displayed and what special properties were attributed to them.

Different imperatives are at work in the art of different traditions, and Obtaining Images firmly anchors the art of Japan of this period in its contemporary context, offering a highly engaging and comprehensive introduction for the student and general reader alike.

Obtaining Images is a beautiful book, full of insights on every page. Timon Screech transforms our view of Japanese art, showing it to us through the eyes of the people who made, commissioned, bought and saw it, and in the process taking us right under the skin of this very different society and mindset.’ — Literary Review

Obtaining Images is a wide-ranging synthetic analysis of Edo-period art. Few authors have offered as much integrated commentary on Edo images and engaged with as many significant issues as Timon Screech has in this volume . . . Reading this book is a bit like seeing a familiar landscape in a fresh, new light . . . Pages are peppered with intriguing tales . . . packed with piquant detail and novel perspectives . . . Screechs aim is also to make his reader question received thought on Edo-period art and appreciate its great complexity . . . not only has he accomplished this, but he has accomplished something perhaps even more difficult: he has written a synthesis of the Edo-period pictorial world complete enough to satisfy the specialists expectation yet engaging enough to hold the non-specialists attention.’ — Monumenta Nipponica

‘For those with an interest in the marketplace of production, the book includes fascinating details on the interactions between consumers and patrons, on one side, and the artists and producers, on the other . . . I strongly recommend this book to all scholars and students (especially literary specialists) with an interest in Edo-period culture.’ — Japan Review

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Timon Screech is Professor in the History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and, concurrently, Permanent Visiting Professor at Tama Art University, Tokyo. He is the author of many books including Sex and the Floating World: Erotic Images in Japan, 1700-1820 (2nd Edition Reaktion, 2009).