Portraits of Twenty-eight Metal Artists

Kitao Shigemasa Japanese

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 380

In this print, Kitao Shigemasa (北尾重政, 1739–1820), an artist of the ukiyo-e genre (known for woodblock prints and paintings), portrays twenty-eight of the most influential sword-fitting makers of the Edo period (1615–1868). Sitting at the top of this imaginary gathering is Yokoya Somin (横谷宗珉, 1670–1733), who is celebrated for his role as initiator of a movement that ushered in a renaissance of the craft. The way Somin is highlighted in terms of position, size, and frontal view, with the other artists arranged in a circle, can be interpreted as an allusion to spiritual mandalas that feature buddhas and bodhisattvas.

Portraits of Twenty-eight Metal Artists, Kitao Shigemasa (Japanese, 1739–1820), Woodblock print; ink and color on paper, Japanese

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