BC. Laurence Binyon


2. Painting in the Far East: An Introduction to the History of Pictorial Art in Asia, Especially China and Japan. London: Arnold, 1908. 4th ed. rev., 1934. Reprint New York: Dover, 1959.

Demonstrates a remarkable breadth of knowledge about Japanese art for this date in England. Binyon writes in the 1908 preface that the work is ‘an attempt to survey and to interpret the aims of Oriental painting, and to appreciate it from the standpoint of a European in relation to the rest of the world’s art’. His note in the 1934 preface that the first edition was ‘the first book in a European language on the subject with which it deals’ is largely correct. Earlier studies had surveyed Chinese and Japanese art, but none had attempted a comparative and evaluative interpretation of the kind offered here. Binyon’s obituary in the Times (39) echoed general critical opinion in referring to the work as a ‘remarkable triumph’. The original edition acknowledges Okakura’s Ideals of the East (see D16) and ‘Brinkley’s great work on Japan’ (D14), as well as Taki Seiichi’s (Ap) journal Kokka, and notes as well the ‘invaluable help’ of Kohitsu Ryônin, direct descendent of a distinguished hereditary line of art critics associated with the Japanese imperial family, who from December 1901 to July 1903, at the behest of the Tokyo Imperial Museum, was resident in London to study the Japanese collection at the British Museum. Among those he met during this time was Yeats (see BL25). Holaday (BK148) argues that Painting was a source for Pound’s SEVEN LAKES CANTO (BK43). See also BL10, 27, 54, 80, and 228.





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