megane-e 眼鏡絵
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Lit. glasses. A painting which is designed to be viewed through an apparatus which further heightens an illusion of depth created using Western techniques of perspective and shading. The earliest apparatus used in Japan is thought to have arrived in Nagasaki via China from Holland in 1718. The earliest extant Japanese megane-e are thought to be those of Maruyama Oukyo 円山応挙 (1733-95) produced in Kyoto (ca. 1759-67). Some prints showed actual scenes of Kyoto; for example, a view of Sanjuusangendou 三十三間堂 which is attributed to Oukyo. These prints may have influenced Utagawa Toyoharu 歌川豊春 (1735-1814), who was reportedly creating megane-e in the 1770's, after having moved from Kyoto to Edo in 1765. Toyoharu may have been the first to create prints which were adapted directly from European prints, rather than via Chinese copies of European etchings. Shiba Koukan 司馬江漢 (1747-1818) is also known for his megane-e. There are two types. One, the nozokikarakuri 覗繰, shown in use in a print by Suzuki Harunobu 鈴木春信 (1724-70), uses a lens and a mirror set at a 45 degree angle, reversing the image. Thus, if the print karakuri-e 繰絵 (reversed image) contains lettering, recognizable landscape features of famous places, or kimono 着物 (usually worn left over right), these elements will appear backwards if viewed without the lens and mirror apparatus. The other type, nozokibako 覗箱 (peep-box) consists of a box with a peephole containing a convex lens which enlarges the image, nozoki-e 覗絵 but does not reverse it. At times the distinction between karakuri-e and nozoki-e images has been confused. In the Edo period the term *uki-e 浮絵 was applied to both types as well as to perspective prints that used no apparatus at all. The term megane-e probably dates from the Meiji period.


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