Arts of Japan: Edo Aviary and Poetic License
Continuing a celebration of important Freer holdings in Edo period art, complementary but distinct installations examine two themes of these works. Edo Aviary (gallery 6) traces how depictions of birds, long part of the Japanese visual repertoire, were influenced by natural history painting in the Edo period. Great attention was given to physical accuracy, but the tendency to give birds anthropomorphic qualities also came to the fore. Poetic License: Making Old Words New (gallery 7) shows how the interpretation of classical Japanese and Chinese literary traditions, previously the domain of an educated aristocracy, was absorbed into the merchant and artisan classes during the Edo period, producing energetic reconsiderations of time-honored themes.