Masterworks of Japanese Art

Masterworks of Japanese Art

Masterworks of Japanese Art

Masterworks of Japanese Art

Excerpt

The Tôto Bunka Company's beautiful Pageant of Japanese Art in six volumes is certainly one of the most outstanding Japanese publications since the end of the war. A translation of the same company's Nihon Bijitsu Zenshu, it contained some of the most beautiful plates ever made, together with a six-hundred page historical account prepared by a group of the most eminent Japanese scholars in the field. The wide acclaim this publication received created a demand for a more handy volume that would make the excellent work it contained available to a still wider public. Also, since the authoritative original text was compiled for a Japanese audience, it was felt that a general review of it, prepared with an eye toward making it more accessible and comprehensible to readers less versed in Japanese culture would be of great advantage.

In the present volume, therefore, I have tried to extract the essentials from the Pageant and present them as simply as the subject permits, with revisions and bits of supplementary information where necessary in the interests of English readers. It is entirely possible that the original editors hold somewhat different ideas as to what the "essentials" are, and they are consequently in no way responsible for the ensuing account. At the same time I should like to express my gratitude for the wealth of data provided me by their work.

In selecting plates from the Pageant, I have attempted to choose those that best illustrate the basic historical trends and aesthetic principles, but I was faced with an embarras de richesses. It was difficult to part with many of the original reproductions, but I am at least consoled by the fact that those included amply demonstrate the scope and depth of Japan's artistic achievement.

I beg the specialist's indulgence for having attempted to cover such a large subject in so little space. In skipping so lightly over the centuries, I have had to omit much that is important and interesting. Still, if this outline helps to introduce the fascinating subject of Japanese art to the many who are still strangers to it, it will have served a worthy purpose.

CHARLES S. TERRY

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