Japanese Militarists

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Japanese soldiers occupying China during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

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Japanese soldiers on horseback during the Japanese occupation of Manchuria.

Japanese Militarists were a group of Japanese politicians who believed that the building of a strong military was essential in order to capture new territories and become a first-world nation. Militarism became a major force in Japan after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and after the Great Depression struck in 1929. Due to the crisis caused by the depression, by 1930 military officials had taken control of most important government positions. These leaders used their power to persecute and assassinate political enemies while building up Japan's military. As Japan grew more hostile and hungry for expansion, its relations with China worstened. In 1931, Japan's military occupied the region of Manchuria , located in China. The conflict reached a climax in 1937, resulting in the Second Sino-Japanese War in which Japan captured almost the entire east coast of China. Finally after an oil boycott from the U.S., Japan attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, drawing America into World War II. All of these events were a result of Japan's intense militaristic policy during the interwar years.

Amerigo Vespucci

Amerigo Vespucci was a Spanish and Portugese explorer who left his legacy on the continents of North and South America. In 1449 Vespucci made his first voyage to South America for Spain. He sailed down the coast of the continent and reached the mouth of the Amazon River . In 1501 he returned to South America under the Portuguese flag. Once again he sailed down the coast and came within 400 miles of the southern tip of South America, as he reached Tiera del Fuego. Vespucci was named a Major Pilot of Spain and a Master Navigator. The continents of North and South America are also named after him.

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Leonardo da Vinci - Ginevra de' Benci (Reverse side below) - Source

Leonardo da Vinci 's Ginevra de' Benci truly exemplifyes many of the themes visible in Renaissance artwork. The most obvious quality of this potrtait is its remarkable realism. The facial features including the eyes, nose and mouth are painted very realisticly, in contrast to paintings created in the Medieval era. Even the curls in the woman's hair are remarkably lifelike. In order to attain this realism, da Vinci has employed the technique called chiaroscuro . Chiaroscuro creates a realistic image by creating light areas and shadows. This technique is visible on the lady's neck, around her eyes, and in the distance behind her. Da Vinci also employes sfumato , the blending of colors, to add yet another layer of realism to his work. Finally, da Vinci uses perspective to give the portrait a sense of depth. In the distant landscape, the objects are significantly smaller than those in the front of the painting. This acts as a technique to add yet another lifelike aspect to the painting. Ginerva de' Benci is clearly a model for all Renaissance art.
Aside from having striking realism, da Vinci's painting also represents an important theme of the Renaissance that is humanism . This portrait features the young, Florentine noblewoman, Ginerva de' Benci. Being that the subject of the painting is secular, it shows how people were becoming less concerned with the ideas of religion, and more involved with that of fellow humans. The reverse side of the painting, shows the most profound example of humanism in the painting. On the reverse is a scroll with the Latin phrase, "Virtutem forma decorat". This translates to "Beauty adorns virtue". One of the biggest characteristics of humanism was the renewed interest in conducting knowledgeable, noble lives. This phrase makes reference to the beauty of the noblewoman, but also to her high moral standards. Da Vinci also uses pyramidal formation as the figure of the woman, showing an awareness of spiritual ideals, but not making it the main focus as it is not easily recognized at first glance. Overall, da Vinci's work faithfully represents the ideals of the biggest theme of the Renaissance, humanism.