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Rinpa Paintings

Rinpa is the name given to a group of artists whose work is characterized by bright colors, bold forms, lavish surfaces (often enhanced with gold and silver), the frequent use of a bird's-eye perspective, and their reliance on the painting styles and literary themes popular during the late Heian period (794-1185), when the Japanese court and nobility in Kyoto had been at their political and cultural height. Rinpa means "rin school"; the term is derived from the last syllable of the name Korin in honor of Ogata Korin (1658-1716), one of the most influential artists of this school. The Rinpa ancestry is traced back to the painter and calligrapher Tawaraya Sotatsu (active 1600-1640) and Hon'ami Koetsu (1558-1637), best known for his calligraphy and pottery. Sotatsu, Koetsu, and Korin belonged to the machishu class of Kyoto society, wealthy, educated merchants who socialized with and catered to the Kyoto aristocracy, many of whom were impoverished. The interest in reviving early court culture that permeates the art of the Rinpa school is a reflection of the close cultural and personal ties between the machishu and the aristocracy.
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