Few cultures had as rich a vocabulary for pictures of specific places as did eighteenth-century Japan. Why then did yet another word, shinkeizu (literally “true-view pictures”), come into being in the late eighteenth century? The answer is that none of the existing terms satisfactorily articulated the ideological essence of a new kind of painting advocated by a group of artists who sought to incorporate into their work styles and concepts associated with the art of the Chinese literatus. These Japanese masters came to constitute a school known as Nanga (the Japanese interpretation of the Chinese “Southern school” of painting; it was also called bunjinga, “literati painting”). For a picture (zu) of a given scene (kei) to be profound, argued the connoisseurs of Nanga, the artist must experience the vista at first hand and then absorb and transmit its essential reality (shin). It was in the circle of the brilliant literati artist Ike Taiga (1723–76) that the concept ofshinkeizu became the integral element of the new Japanese conception of depictions of actual scenes.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.