Nise-e

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Imperial guardians handscroll detail

Nise-e (似絵), or "likeness pictures," were a style of portraiture popular in the courts and intellectual circles of Japan's Kamakura period. Court officials, poets and intellectuals, and other prominent figures, would be portrayed in such a way as to capture the essence and personality of the individual in a very few brushstrokes. The term ni-gao (似顔) was often applied to those nise-e portraits which were painted particularly realistically.