Exchanging Artistic Practices and Textual Narratives: The Jesuit Painting Seminary in Japan (Late 16th – Early 17th Centuries)

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A Painting Seminary (Seminário) was founded in Japan in the last decade of the 16th century by the Jesuits. It ended in 1614 following the expulsion of the missionaries and their displacement to places like Macao and Manila. This Seminary functioned as a complement to the humanistic education and as a part of program of study of the Jesuits. It was opened to anyone who wanted to learn how to print using the printing machine brought from Europe in 1590 and how to paint according to the main technical principles of the European painting: the use of chiaroscuro and, above all, of the linear perspective. This called the attention not only of individuals already converted to Christianity or with the purpose to do so, but also of others who kept their original religious beliefs. In this Seminary a vast amount of works was produced, a fact that is attested by the surviving items, even though the majority of it must was destroyed during the persecutions of Christianity. This is an hybrid production both in technical and iconographical terms and it was aimed at different publics, including the Jesuits themselves. The purpose of this paper is to offer an approach to this new visual culture by means of the painting devices that incorporates both Asian and European references, indicating the interaction between the different agents involved: the missionaries, the students of the Seminary and the Japanese warrior and mercantile classes. © 2018 by World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHistory of Mathematical Sciences
Subtitle of host publicationPortugal and East Asia V - Visual and Textual Representations in Exchanges Between Europe and East Asia 16th - 18th Centuries
EditorsLuís Saraiva, Catherine Jami
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherWorld Scientific
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)978-981323325-6, 978-981323324-9
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Jesuits
  • Franciscans
  • Elite women


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