Since time immemorial, the story of Japan's history has been woven from multiple wars and a repeating cycle of upheaval and stability. The circumstances of these battles were preserved in painted records for various different purposes since the medieval period. This exhibition will present various images of these battles, ranging from illustrated handscrolls of the Kamakura and Muromachi periods to Warring States battle paintings depicting the unrest of the 15th–16th centuries. While demonstrating the diverse variety of paintings depicting wartime conflicts, it will also reconsider the significance of the role played by artwork featuring such scenes.
Battle paintings were not merely documentary records; they also served the purpose of educating the warrior classes or honoring their personal family lines. At the same time, battles such as the Genpei War between the Minamoto and Taira clans became narrativized and were broadly disseminated even throughout the commoner classes. In terms of format, these pictures of battle scenes took the shape not only of illustrated handscrolls, but were also painted onto folding screens, on hanging scrolls, and in painted albums and bound booklets, where they could be enjoyed in a wide variety of forms.
A vast array of battle scene images appears over time, including Warring States-era battle scenes that were produced for the purpose of lauding the deeds of one's own family and ancestors that were reconsidered and revived during the late Edo period. This exhibition reveals the genealogy of battle scene illustrations that were produced continuously from medieval times through the Warring States period.
＊Premier Showing of the High-Resolution Reproduction of the Winter Siege of Osaka Battle Screens