Japanese Painting

Brief Overview of Japanese Painting

Woman Painting

Distinctively Evolved Fine Art of Japan
Japanese painting is the fine art of Japan, which is the picture or design executed in paints, or the works of art painted in traditional Japanese manner. In Japanese painting, there are many styles and genres of visual art in each period of time, while the fundamental of aesthetics is based on the common practices from more than thousand years ago. Famous traditional Japanese painting styles are “Kanou-style”, “Enzan-Shijou-style”, and “Yamatoe-style”.

Mutually influencing with Chinese and Western Paintings
In the longtime development of Japanese painting, Chinese culture and practices had been influencing a lot, such as Buddhist religious painting, ink-wash painting of landscape, and calligraphy of ideographs. Japanese painting always absorb and digest them to recreate totally original Japanese style. From the late 16th century onwards, uniquely evolved Japanese paintings and aesthetics were imported to European countries, and many artists in Europe were influenced by them.

Japanese Painting is Keep on Evolving
One of the biggest characteristics of Japanese painting is the depiction of scenes from daily life and narrative scenes that are often crowded with figures and details. This traditional style passed down up to now in Japanese fine arts, even to recent “Manga” and “Anime”.

In Japan, there are 158 works of National Treasure of Japanese Painting from 8th century to 19th century. These very rare survivals from early periods represents the transition of Japanese painting.

Yoritomo in Cave
"Yoritomo in Cave"
Shiki Kacho Zu
Shiki Kacho Zu
Shoukaku Zu
Shoukaku Zu

Yamato-e Painting

Overview of Yamato-e painting
Yamato-e is one concept of style in Japanese paintings. It is a term which is opposed to the term 'Kara-e,' i. e. , paintings in Chinese style, and it refers to the painting in Japanese style which was developed in the era of the Kokufu Bunka (Japan's original national culture) during the Heian period. It is typically seen in emakimono (an illustrated scroll) such as Genji Monogatari Emaki (Illustrated handscrolls of the Tale of Genji). It had been succeeded by Tosa school, and so on and affected Japanese-style painting in recent and modern times. The Kano-ha school integrated the tradition of Yamato-e and the technique and subject of Suiboku-ga (ink painting) in China.

Concepts of Yamato-e
It is difficult to define what kind of paintings the term 'Yamato-e' refers to clearly, and its sense and usage are subtly different depending on the period. It is clear that 'Yamato-e' is a term or a concept which is opposed to the term 'Kara-e' (pictures of Han). The term 'Kara-e' refers to not only paintings imported from China to Japan, but also ones in 'Chinese style' drawn by Japanese. The 'Chinese style' in this case relates to both subjects (themes) and the way of painting, and it can be said that Kara-e are the pictures that depict Sansui (landscape, hills and rivers) and customs in the style of Chinese painting. In contrast, Yamato-e refers to paintings that depict landscape and customs in Japan (instead of China) primarily. After medieval times when the paintings of Sung and Yuan such as ink-wash paintings were accepted mainly by the temples of the Zen sect and ink-wash paintings and pictures of Han (by Kano School, and so on) were produced, the paintings in the traditional style with characteristically dark colors were called Yamato-e.

The term Yamato-e has been generally written as '大和絵' in kanji (Chinese characters) since recent times, but it had been also written as '倭絵' or '和絵' before recent times, and in some cases the word '日本画' was also read as 'Yamato-e. 'For this reason, some people use the hiragana (the Japanese cursive syllabary) description as 'やまと絵' in modern times. In 1993 the Tokyo National Museum held a special exhibition of representative Yamato-e works titled 'Yamato-e, Miyabi no keifu (Japanese style paintings, genealogy of refinement),' and it defined the term 'Yamato-e' as the 'paintings originated from dynastic arts. '

History of Yamato-e
The Tang, which had strong political and cultural effects in Asia, declined at the end of the 9th century, and fell at the beginning of the 10th century. It is said that various countries became less influenced by China and each developed their own culture around that time. In Japan the Kentoshi (Japanese envoy to China in the Tang Dynasty) was abolished in 894 and in the 10th century, the so-called the Kokufu Bunka, which was unaffected by Tang, flourished. Specifically, kana (Japanese syllabary - alphabet) was devised based on kanji (Chinese characters), waka (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) and chronicles were described, and wayo shodo (literally, "Japanese calligraphy") was established, and there was speculation that Yamato-e also appeared around that time. The first appearance of 'Yamato-e' as opposed to Kara-e was considered as the section dated December 15, 999 in the dairy of FUJIWARA no Yukinari, 'Gonki,' in which it was recorded that Yukinari, who was famous for good penmanship in those days, wrote letters on the 'Yamato-e yonshaku byobu' (folding screen of 1. 2 meter width with Yamato-e). In the volume of 'Eawase' (A Picture Contest) in " Genji Monogatari" (The Tale of Genji), which was written around the same time (from the end of the 10th century to the beginning of the 11th century), narrative paintings such as "Taketori Monogatari" (The Tale of the Bamboo-Cutter), "Utsuho Monogatari" (The Tale of Utsuho) and "Ise Monogatari" (The Tales of Ise) were described. Of course, "Genji" is a fiction, but it can be thought that it reflected the situation that the paintings based on Japanese tales were enjoyed among the Imperial Court and aristocratic society in those days.

The existing paintings made during the Heian period are mostly Buddhist paintings. As to earthen pictures other than Buddhist paintings, many large-sized Yamato-e works must have been done on shoji (a paper sliding door) and folding screens for furnishing or partitioning in the Imperial Court or the residence of aristocracy, but only particular examples related to shrines and temples remain in existence. As a Yamato-e painter from the early part to the middle of the Heian period, KOSE no Kanaoka and KOSE no Omi of Kose School and ASUKABE no Tsunenori were known, but their works did not exist now so it is a pity that we can not trace the history of their styles from their original works. As to Emakimono, the existing oldest works are those produced around the 12th centuries such as the "Genji Monogatari Emaki," and there were no existing narrative paintings produced before the 11th century, and it is a pity that the reality of this situation and the history of its style are not clear.

The first pointed out as existing Yamato-e works produced during the Heian period is Emakimono. The four major picture scrolls, that is, "Genji Monogatari Emaki," "Ban Dainagon Ekotoba" (picture scrolls about Conspiracy of Otenmon gate), "Shigisan Engi" (legends of Mt. Shigi) and "Choju-Jinbutsu-giga" (picture scroll drawn animals and people caricatured) are considered to be produced during the end of the Heian period (in the 12th century) (however, two among the four volumes of "Choju-Jinbutsu-giga" were produced during the Kamakura period). It is clear that many large-sized Yamato-e such as those drawn on folding screen or shoji were produced other than those on small-sized screens from records, but only few of them remain.

Sansui Byobu-zu, Ancient Toji-Temple
Sansui Byobu-zu, "Ancient Toji-Area"

Emakimono Painting

Emakimono, Paintings on The Scroll
Emakimono (an illustrated scroll) is a kind of Japanese style painting composed of series of illustrated scenes or stories on a horizontally long screen made up of multiple sheets of rectangular paper (or silk cloth) connected side by side. It is also called as 'Emaki. 'Many emakimono have numbers of pictures and captions (narrative texts), alternately arranged for each text to explain what its relevant picture depicts, but there are also some emakimono with pictures only. Emakimono was originated in Chinese Gakan (illustrated handscrolls), but later developed independently in Japan.

The first emakimono painted in Japan is reportedly the "E Ingakyo" (literally, an illustrated sutra of the past and present causes and effects) produced in the Nara period. On this emakimono, sutras are described on the lower stand while pictures used to explain the sutras are laid out at upper stand above related texts.

During the Heian period, there emerged some emaki which were produced as subjects of dynastic styled literature, preaching type stories. These emaki created their own style, alternating the arrangement of pictures and uninterrupted texts of relevant captions, on paper materials where flowers and birds were designed and foils, thin and long strip, and fine powder of gold and silver were used for decoration.

These monogatari-emaki (illustrated scrolls of tales) could depict in their own way of expression such stories as of "Makura no Soshi" (the Pillow Book), "Ise Monogatari" (the Tales of Ise), "Genji Monogatari" (the Tale of Genji), "Uji Shui Monogatari" (a collection of the Tales from Uji) and others, and especially "Genji Monogatari Emaki" (illustrated scrolls of the Tale of Genji) was drawn in rich colors to show the lives of noble class people, by using a special compositional technique called fukinuki-yatai which is useful to depict a residential interior without a roof and ceiling so that viewers can see overall conditions of the residence and furniture of that time.

During the Kamakura period, many emaki were produced, including kasen emaki (illustrated scrolls of celebrated poets), senki emaki (illustrated scrolls of war tales), jisha engi (illustrated legends of temples and shrines) and denki emaki (scrolls of illustrated biographies of well-known priests).

What are regarded as the best four picture scrolls in Japan are "Genji Monogatari Emaki," "Shigisan Engi" (legends of Mr. Shigi), "Ban Dainagon Emaki" (illustrated scrolls of the story of a courtier Ban Dainagon) and "Choju Jinbutsu Giga" (scrolls of frolicking animals and humans).

Definitions of Emakimono
Kansuso' (a hand scroll or horizontal scroll) means a binding style of a horizontally long sized scroll of paper (or silk cloths on rare occasions) made up of many rectangular sheets connected side by side in lateral direction, and equipped with a roller on one end of the sheet to wind the whole sheet up on it to store the scroll, and we call various documents, Buddhist sutras, and other paintings, which are made up in this kansuso method of binding, as 'kansubon' or more generally 'makimono. 'Kansubon were popularly made and used in China, Korean Peninsula, Japan and other East Asian countries, as well as even in ancient Egypt where some similar examples were reported.

Emakimono' or 'emaki' means whole pictorial works of kansuso style binding, but, when the term 'emakimono' is used in the history of Japanese art, it is usually understood to indicate mainly the works of yamato-e style paintings made in Japan (a typical Japanese traditional style of painting), or in some cases, the term is often limited to the works produced during the Heian period through to the Muromachi period. Similar pictorial scrolls of kansuso style painted in China are not called 'emakimono' but 'gakan' or 'zukan,' and also ink paintings by Japanese, such as "Sansui Chokan" (literally, long scroll of landscape scenery) by Sesshu, a ink painter, are usually not called 'emakimono. '

History of Emakimono
During the Nara period in Japan, some pieces of illustrated scrolls of Buddhist sutras, commonly known as "E Ingakyo" were produced. Each scroll of them has a space divided into two parts, with the lower part having text copies of Buddhist sutra descriptions about Shakyamuni's previous life and his enlightenment as Buddha, and the upper part having pictures corresponding to the descriptions below them. All pictures on these scrolls were done in a very simple style. There are two opposing opinions that, on the one hand, "E Ingakyo" is to be regarded as a root of Japanese emakimono (illustrated scrolls), and, on the other hand, it has nothing to do with emakimono produced after the Heian period.

According to such descriptions written in a volume captioned 'Eawase' (picture contest) in "Genji Monogatari,' many scrolls of illustrated tales may be assumed to have been produced during the beginning and middle Heian period in Japan, but since none of such scrolls are now existing that were produced between the 9th and 11th centuries, we are unable to trace clearly how the styles of illustrated scrolls, of that period, had developed. The so called 'the best four picture scrolls' are now ascertained by historical evidence to be works of the 12th century, or the later Heian period, which are "Genji Monogatari Emaki," "Ban Dainagon Ekotoba" (Also known as "Ban Dainagon Emaki"), "Shigisan Engi," and "Choju Jinbutsu Giga" (the exception of two scrolls out of four "Choju Jinbutsu Giga" scrolls that are believed to have been made later in the Kamakura period). These works are not just the oldest existing illustrated scrolls, but are also appraised as the most valuable works of art. The glory days of illustrated scrolls were from the late Heian period to the Kamakura period, while in the Muromachi period there were also lots of illustrated scrolls produced but none could be compared to the aforesaid 'best four picture scrolls. 'Also in the modern age, a lot of pictures were painted in the style of emakimono by such artists as Sotatsu TAWARAYA, Tanyu KANO and Matabei IWASA, but these pictures are now often excluded from the category of 'emakimono. '

Appellatives of Emakimono
The word 'emaki' is used in two ways; one is to attach the word at the end of the name of its corresponding mother work, like "Genji Monogatari Emaki" and "Murasaki Shikibu Nikki Emaki" (illustrated scroll of the Lady Murasaki's Diary), and another way is to regard the term of 'emaki' or 'emakimono' as a concept to collectively refer to the pictures painted in kansu (a handscroll or horizontal scroll) style. However, the words of 'emaki' and 'emakimono' came to be used only after the modern age, and according to records written before the medieval period, they were simply expressed with the ending of 'XX-e' (literally, XX's picture).

Emakimono Patterns
As already explained, emakimono is a painting drawn on a long sheet of paper (or, rarely, a sheet of silk cloth) composed of a number of rectangular sheets connected side by side in the horizontal direction, while those painted on silk include "Ippen Shonin Eden" (illustrated tales of a Buddhist saint, Ippen) and "Kasuga Gongen Kenki Emaki" (illustrated scrolls of miracles of the Kasuga god). The most popular pattern of emakimono is an alternate appearance of 'e' (picture) and 'kotoba' (text or description), where the preceding 'kotoba' is immediately followed by a corresponding 'e' in ordinary cases (but with rare exceptional cases). A series of pictures or texts in an emakimono is counted as one 'dan' (section), and, if an emakimono is said to have 'e 4-dan, kotoba 4-dan' (four sections of picture and four sections of text), it means the picture and text will appear alternately four times. At the same time, there were some emakimono created with different patterns than the above, such as "Choju Jinbutsu Giga" which had no text, but pictures only, and "Kegonshu Soshi Eden" (pictorial biographies of the founders of the Kegon sect) that contained 'spoken lines' beside some characters in a scene in addition to 'kotoba. '

Most emakimono have pictures of more or less 30cm high in full vertical length, but some have even larger pictures with a vertical length of 50cm or more like the Jokyu version of "Kitano Tenjin Engi Emaki" (an illustrated history of Kitano shrine). There are also some emakimono with smaller pictures of about 15cm high like otogi-zoshi (illustrated short prose narratives of Japan) which are called Koe (small pictures). Overall length, from left to right ends, of emakimono varies very much, with majority length in the vicinity of 10m, but also with such length as 20m per one scroll like "Kokawadera Engi Emaki" (a picture scroll of the legends of Kokawa-dera Temple).

Each emakimono is completed either in one scroll or in multiple scrolls. "Honen Shonin Eden" of both Chionin Temple in Kyoto and Okuin of Taima-dera Temples in Nara (deepest located temple house of Taima-dera Temple) have the largest number of scrolls of an emakimono work, namely 'forty-eight,' which number is compared to 'forty-eight vows' of Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata).

There are some works whose names have the ending of '-emaki' but are nevertheless kept in frames or in vertical hanging scrolls. These works were originally completed in the style of emakimono, but later split off into pieces of illustrated paper either to be fixed in frames for the preservation purpose or to be transferred or sold out to others. A typical example of the former case is "Genji Monogatari Emaki" in the possession of the Gotoh Art Museum and the Tokugawa Art Museum, where emaki is partitioned into each dan (section) of both pictures and texts and set in frames. One well-known example of the latter case of emakimono, split into pieces to be transferred, is the Satake version of "Sanju-roku Kasen Emaki" (illustrated scroll of the thirty-six celebrated poets). This work was originally composed of two scrolls of emakimono where each poet's portrait was painted beside his or her profile and representative poem. It was in the Taisho period when this emaki was offered for sale, but since no body was able to purchase it in complete sets, it was divided into pieces of each poet and sold out to different individual buyers (collectors).

Composition and Brushwork of Emakimono
Emakimono are viewed horizontally on a desk, and so on, although other art works are mostly set up vertically for appreciation, like wall paintings, fusumae (paintings on sliding-doors panels), kakejiku (hanging scrolls), byobu (folding screens consisting of multiple and joined panels). In addition to the above way of viewing, emakimono is generally limited to a narrow vertical length so that many pictures are composed as if they are looked down upon from. In some emakimono depicting the inside of a house, a special composition technique was used to make viewers able to see figures inside the house by eliminating the complete roofs and ceilings. This method of painting, which gives an image of houses with roofs and ceilings missing, is called 'fukinuki-yatai' and can be typically noted in "Genji Monogatari Emaki" and others. This 'fukinuki-yatai' method was applied not only to emakimono, but also to gajo (an album of paintings). Another characteristic painting method of emakimono is 'Iji Dozu Gaho' (a composition method used to show successive events within a united background). This method was used to allow repeated appearances of the same figure in the same scene to show passage of time, as may be seen in such typical screen pages as 'Kodomo no Kenka' (children's fight) in "Ban Dainagon Emaki" and Daibutsu-den (hall of the Great Statute of the Buddha) of Todai-ji Temple in "Shigisan Engi Emaki" (Also known as "Shigisan Engi"). In the latter case of the above, a character of Amagimi (the nun) appears six times in one scene. This scene is depicting a sequence of events as time goes on in one picture, namely the arrival of Amagimi at Daibutsu-den hall, her pray to the Buddha statue, her overnight stay in the hall in seclusion, and her departure at dawn.

Another fundamental difference of emakimono from fusumae, kakejiku, byobu, and other forms of traditional paintings is that emakimono is unable to be overviewed. Although emakimono is exhibited at a museum or any other place by showing a few meters of unfolded part of it is in a glass case, the standard way of appreciation of emakimono is to put it on a desk and scroll with the left hand its left side to see new screens while with right hand is rolling up already viewed scenes on the right side. With this style of emakimono pictures, the vertical length of a picture is limited but its horizontal length is not, which makes it possible to depict a drastic development of any long story on a long space of paper and also to show there the passage of time. As a typical example of this feature of emakimono, the first roll of two scrolls of "Ban Dainagon Emaki" has a scenery of fire at Otenmon (the red-painted front gate) which depicts flaring Otenmon, crowds of viewers, government's officers trotting down on to the site upon receiving information, and so on, in a few meters long series of pictures only without any 'kotoba. 'This kind of composition of long successive series of 'e' to show development of scenes by unrolling a scroll is called 'progression style composition. 'On the other hand, a composition of alternating appearance of a picture and text pages of about 50 to 60 cm width to be overviewed by spreading on a desk is called 'section style composition,' typical example of which is "Genji Monogatari Emaki. "In existing works of emakimono, there are not so many 'progression style compositions' showing effective features of emakimono, but there are many 'section style compositions. '

Documentary Value of Emakimono
Emakimono is attracting attention to its artistic value as well as to its documentary value as visual historical and folklore materials (pictorial material). Emakimono represents various items such as clothing, architecture, food, weapons and armor, furnishing goods, and so on, which do not necessarily reflect their real status in the days of production but, nevertheless, provides valuable visual information for various studies and research, including history of clothing, history of architecture, folklore, and Yusoku-kojitsu (studies in ancient court and military practices and usage). For example, the scene of Daibutsu-den of Todai-ji Temple painted in "Shigisan Engi" produced in 12th century is the only one existing material depicting actual Daibutsu (Great Statue of the Buddha) and its hall in the age of their creation. Also "Gaki Soshi" (hungry ghosts scroll) shows us real conditions of toilet of that time, which we can no longer trace in other documentary materials.

Heiji Monogatari Emaki, Sanjo-dono Yauchi-no-Maki
Heiji Monogatari Emaki, "Sanjo-dono Yauchi-no-Maki"

The Kano School

Overview of The Kano School
The Kano school is the largest gaha (group of painters) in Japanese art history, and was active for about 400 years from the middle of the Muromachi period (fifteenth century) to the end of the Edo period (nineteenth century) as a group of expert painters that consistently dominated the art world. Masanobu KANO, the official painter of the Muromachi shogunate, was the earliest ancestor; his descendants worked for Nobunaga ODA, Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and the Tokugawa Shogun as painters after the collapse of the Muromachi shogunate, consistently dominating the art world associated with the powers-that-be, thus greatly influencing Japanese art circles as a professional painter group working on works ranging from screen paintings in the Imperial Palace, castles or large temples to small paintings such as those created on fans.

The Kano school is a painter group mainly concerned with consanguinity such as parents or brothers; it reigned over the nation's realm of art for as long as four centuries, a period unequaled anywhere in the world.

Prominent painters of the Kano school include the founder Masanobu KANO, who worked for Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA, the eighth Seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") of the Muromachi shogunate; his heir, Motonobu KANO, a grandson of Motonobu; Eitoku KANO, who created screen paintings of the Azuchi and Osaka castles; a grandson of Eitoku, Tanyu KANO, who moved from Kyoto to Edo and supervised the creation of screen paintings of Edo Castle and Nijo Castle; Sanraku KANO, who stayed in Kyoto, thus representing a group called 'Kyo Kano. '

Once the structure of the Edo shogunate had become stable, the members of the Kano school were driven to get extensive orders done for screen paintings of the Imperial Palace and castles as the shogunate's official painters. In order to fulfill large numbers of orders for screen paintings, the head of the Kano family needed to lead the painters so they could work in a group. Consequently, the painters of the Kano school needed to learn ancestral painting examples and ways of painting without expressing their individuality as painters. Given such an historical backdrop, it can be said that the Kano school after Tanyu KANO only tried to keep the tradition and maintain influence as official painters, and therefore lost its artistic drive.

In the present day, an artist's expression of individuality and mentality is valued, so the evaluation of paintings of the Kano school is not necessarily high. However, it is a fact that the Kano school led the Japanese art world for about four centuries and that numbers of painters were developed by the group; thus one can hardly discuss the history of Japanese painting but exclude the Kano school, whether in positive or negative terms. It is also a fact that many Japanese painters after the early years of the modern age were influenced by the Kano school and started with the influence of the Kano school; initially, Korin OGATA, of the Rinpa group, and Okyo MARUYAMA of the Shaseiha group had learned from the Kano school.

History of The Kano School

In The Muromachi Period
The Kano school was founded by Masanobu KANO (c. 1434 - 1530), who worked as the official painter for the Muromachi shogunate. He lived quite long for a Japanese of the time (it is commonly believed that he died at age 97), and worked from the middle of the fifteenth century until the early sixteenth century. It is said that he was from the Izu area, but that is uncertain. Due to the progress of study after the late twentieth century, it is speculated that the Kano family was somehow related to the Nagao clan in Ashikaga, Shimotsuke Province (Ashikaga City, Tochigi Prefecture); and "Waterfall," an ink painting that remains at Chorin-ji Temple in Ashikaga City, is considered a relatively early work by Masanobu. The first painting work recorded as having been done by Masanobu is the screen paintings he did of the Deity of Mercy and Luohan in Unchoin, Shokoku-ji Temple Tower, which he did in Kyoto at the age of 30 in 1463. This was just before the turmoil of the Onin War (1467 - 1477) (as reported in Inryoken Nichiroku (Inryoken's Diary)), which tells us that Masanobu was already working as a painter in Kyoto by that time. Shokoku-ji Temple, as the main temple building of Unchoin, where Masanobu created the screen paintings, is a Zendera temple constructed by Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, the third Shogun of the Muromachi shogunate; it is the heart of the Muromachi art world, which produced artist-monks such as Josetsu, Shubun, Sesshu; moreover, in those days Sotan (Sotan OGURI, 1413 - 1481), an artist-monk who was a disciple of Shubun, worked as an official painter. Although it is not exactly certain when Masanobu KANO went to Kyoto, whom he studied under and when he became the official painter for the Muromachi shogunate, it is clear (according to certain records) that Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA, the eighth Shogun of the Muromachi shogunate, gave him an important position. In 1481, a few years after the tumultuous Onin War (1467 - 1477), which had lasted for a decade, Sotan, the official painter for the Muromachi shogunate, died; thus it is thought that Masanobu KANO was appointed as the official painter for the shogunate, succeeding Sotan. Subsequently, Mitsunobu TOSA, of the Yamatoe group (a style of Japanese painting) who was in the postion of Edokoro-azukari (a leader of painters who worked for the Imperial Court) of the Imperial Court, and Masanobu KANO of the Kanga (a Chinese style of painting) group, became two major forces in the art world.

In 1482, the former Shogun, Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA, started the construction of Higashiyama dono (the predecessor of Ginkaku-ji Temple), and Masanobu took charge of the screen paintings. Following the death of Yoshimasa in 1490, Masanobu worked for the Hosokawa clan, which had political power at the time. In this way Masanobu solidified his position in the art world while deepening his relationship with the powers-that-be, and built a foundation for the subsequent prosperity of the Kano school. According to records, it is known that Masanobu created works in various styles and subjects, including screen paintings and Buddhist paintings; however, all his screen paintings have been lost and the existing works are limited to small paintings such as a hanging scroll. His painting style was 'kanga,' with ink painting based on the brushwork of Sung and Yuan in China, in contrast to the traditional Yamatoe of his contemporary, Mitsunobu TOSA. Although Masanobu lived until age 97, it isn't clear what work he produced during the last 30 years, and it seems he had his heir Motonobu assume the work of painting as he went into retirement.

The second generation, Motonobu KANO (1476 - 1559), who built the basis of prosperity of the Kano school, was the heir of Masanobu. His best existing works include the screen paintings in the hojo of Daisenin, Daitoku-ji Temple (the hojo, or chief priest's room, was completed in 1513) and another one in Reiunin, Myoshin-ji Temple in 1543 (it is widely believed that the screen paintings in Daisenin were not created at the time the hojo was completed but were done in a slightly later period). The creation of the screen paintings in the hojo of Daisenin was divided among Soami, Motonobu and his brother Yukinobu KANO, depending on the room; accordingly, Motonobu took charge of "Four Seasons, Flowers and Birds" in 'Danna no Ma' and "Founder of the Zenshu sect" in 'Ihatsu no Ma. '"Founder of Zenshu sect" is a typical ink painting, while "Four Seasons, Flowers and Birds" is based on ink and shows a new flavor at the same time, as it uses colors only on the flowers and birds. Motonobu strengthened the ties with the Ashikaga Shogun and the Hosokawa clan as the powers-that-be, had numerous disciples and consolidated the basis of the Kanoha as a group of painters. He accepted orders from court nobles, temples and shrines as well as samurai families; and as for temples and shrines it is known that he created the screen paintings of Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple in Osaka according to the historical record, but this no longer exists.

Because Motonobu referred to himself as 'Echizen no kami' in his later life, he was given a priestly rank called 'Hogen' however, for posterity he has been referred to as 'Kohogen' or 'Echizen Hogen. 'The work is wide-ranging: he created the Engi Emaki of temples and shrines, votive pictures, gilded folding screens in the Yamatoe style, and portraits as well as screen paintings. Motonobu assumed the Yamatoe painting style in Kanga and ink painting (in which his father Masanobu specialized); he specialized in large decorative paintings such as a Fusuma (Japanese sliding door) and a folding screen, and built a foundation for the style of the Kano school. He is also called the founder of the early modern screen paintings as he established the concept of calligraphy painting styles such as Shintai (standard style), Gyotai (semi-cursive style), and Sotai (cursive style).

In The Azuchi-Momoyama Period
Motonobu had three sons: Munenobu, Hideyori and Naonobu; Naonobu (1519 - 1592); the first, Munenobu, died young, and the third son Naonobu succeeded as the head of family. It is not clear why their family estate was transferred to the third son Naonobu instead of Hideyori, the second son. Naonobu is widely known as Shoei KANO (his posthumous name), and he was active from the Muromachi period to the Momoyama period. The huge "Nirvana" (six meters long) in Daitoku-ji Temple is his finest work. Although he participated in the creation of the screen paintings for the Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple with his father Motonobu as well as in the creation of the screen paintings for the Jukoin, Daitoku-ji Temple with his son Eitoku, he was a less famous artist because his father Motonobu and his son Eitoku were more prominent.

Eitoku KANO (1543 - 1590), the heir of Shoei, is also called Kuninobu; he is one of the most distinguished painters of the Japanese art world from the Momoyama period. Although he created numbers of screen paintings in strict compliance with the plans of the men in power who had survived wild times--including Nobunaga ODA and Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI--these paintings were lost with the buildings, so relatively few of Eitoku's works remain in existence.

The paintings on the partitions in the hojo of Jukoin, Daitoku-ji Temple (which are among his best existing works) were created by Eitoku together with his father Shoei; however, Shoei had Eitoku take charge of Fusumae of the major room in the south front of the hojo, while he took a supporting role. In the days of feudal society it was a common practice that the head of a family would create Fusumae in the major room, so it is historically believed that, at the time such paintings were created, Shoei had already retired after transferring the family estate to Eitoku, who was a great talent. "Flowers and Birds" in Shitchu (the center front room of Hojo) is very highly acclaimed among the screen paintings of Hojo of Jukoin.

Subsequently, Eitoku became involved in the creation of the screen paintings in Azuchi Castle Tower, which Nobunaga ODA constructed during the period from 1576 to 1579. He created screen paintings in the Osaka Castle of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and Jurakudai after Nobunaga died, and in his later years also became involved in creating the screen paintings in the Imperial Palace. These works were highly acclaimed for their originality in the journals and records of the time, so they would be Eitoku's best works if they existed; however, these paintings were lost with the buildings. As Eitoku's existing best works, the screen paintings in the hojo of Jukoin, as previously described, are renowned as well as "Foo dogs, folding screen" as former imperial property, and "Urban and suburb of Kyoto, folding screen," as handed down through the Uesugi clan; it has also been said that "Cypress, folding screen" in the Tokyo National Museum was painted by Eitoku. Eitoku excelled at elaborate paintings and monumental paintings, although he had no choice but to paint in the monumental painting style in order to fill a large number of orders for screen paintings. An elaborate painting is interpreted as a work described in every detail, and monumental painting is interpreted as having a high-minded style.

The Kano school also had the most important painters in the early modern ages. "Viewing Maple Leaves in Takao," a designated national treasure, has the seal of 'Hideyori'; it has been said that this was painted by Hideyori KANO (birth and death dates unknown), the second son of Motonobu KANO; however, it is also said that this 'Hideyori' of "Viewing Maple Leaves in Takao" is another painter called Hideyori SHINSHO, a grandson of Motonobu. Soshu KANO (1551 - 1601) was a brother of Eitoku, also called Motohide, and worked as an assistant to Eitoku in the creation of the screen paintings in Azuchi Castle. Folding screens and portraits still in existence have been attributed to him. Naganobu KANO (1577 - 1654), another brother of Eitoku, is renowned as the painter of "Playing Under the Flowering Trees," a national treasure. As painters other than the direct line of the Kano family, Yoshinobu KANO (1552 - 1640), who painted "Craftspeople, folding screen" in Kawagoe Kitain, and Naizen KANO (1570 - 1616), who painted "Hokoku Festival, folding screen" in Kyoto Toyokuni-jinja Shrine (Kyoto City), are well known.

In The Early Edo Period
Eitoku KANO died at age 48, preceding his father Shoei (Naonobu). Eitoku's first son Mitsunobu KANO (c. 1565 - 1608) and second son Takanobu KANO (1571 - 1618) succeeded him. Mitsunobu created the screen paintings in the Reception Hall of Kangakuin, Onjo-ji Temple; in contrast to Eitoku he specialized in delicate painting in the Yamatoe style. Such a style of painting might not have suited the public taste at the time, and the early modern essays on paintings, including "Honchogashi," generally put a low value on Mitsunobu.

After the death of the Kano family head Mitsunobu, his brother Takanobu led the Kano school because his son Sadanobu KANO (1597 - 1623) was only 12 years of age. Under the feudal system, the family line of Sadanobu, Mitsunobu's first son, was supposed to be the head of family; however, Sadanobu died without an heir at the age of just 27, so after that the legitimacy of the Kano family was the descendant of Takanobu till the end of the Edo period. Takanobu had three sons--Morinobu (Tanyu 1602 - 1674), Naonobu KANO (1607 - 1650) and Yasunobu KANO(1613 - 1685)--and they respectively became the earliest ancestor of the Kajibashi Kano family, Kobikicho Kano family and Nakabashi Kano family. Although the youngest son, Yasunobu, succeeded as the Kano head of family as an adopted son of Sadanobu (mentioned above), the most renowned painter was Morinobu (also known as Tanyu).

Morinobu later became a priest and called himself Tanyusai; as a painter he is known as Tanyu KANO. He eventually moved to Edo and solidified the position of the Kano school in the art world more as the official painter of the Edo shogunate.

Tanyu exercised his painting talent from childhood; in 1612, he met Ieyasu TOKUNAGA in Sunpu at the age of 11 and obtained a residence in Edo Kajibashi Mongai in 1621, subsequent to which he worked based in Edo and energetically created screen paintings in castles and large temples.

Among Tanyu's works, the screen paintings in the Edo and Osaka castles were lost with the buildings, but the screen paintings (ink paintings) in Jorakuden of Nagoya Castle are existent, having avoided an air raid during World War II because they had been removed from the building and evacuated; additionally, the screen paintings in Ninomaru Palace of Nijo Castle and the hojo of Daitoku-ji Temple are among his best existent works. He created various kinds of works, including hanging rolls, picture scrolls and folding screens, as well as these large paintings. He created the screen paintings in Ninomaru Palace of Nijo Castle when he was young (25 years of age), and they showed dynamism in Eitoku's style; however, the screen paintings in Daitoku-ji Temple, which he created later in his life (mainly with ink and water), display a calm approach with abundant use of blank space. He had works in the Yamatoe style in picture scrolls and folding screens as well.

Tanyu emphasized sketches and the copying of ancient paintings; consequently, he left numerous sketch books and reproduction books. Many of Tanyu's copies of ancient paintings (called 'Tanyu Reduction') are existent, which are now part of museums and collections around the nation, and they include many copies of ancient paintings whose originals are now lost, so they are valuable as data for the study of Japanese art history.

In The Middle Edo Period and Later
The Kano school during the Edo period was a huge painting group comprised of a consanguinity group mainly with the head family of the Kano family and numerous disciples around the nation, thus comprising a hierarchy. They are clearly ranked: under the most prestigious four families (called 'inner court painters') there are about 15 families less prestigious called 'outer court painters' and then the 'Machi Kano painters' who catered to the demands of townspeople instead of the Imperial Court or temples and shrines; and consequently their influence spread throughout the nation. The powers of the time sought the stability and continuity of feudal society, and the paintings for public places such as Edo Castle were supposed to be painted in the style of traditional painting examples; they were not intended to be unique. In order to create numbers of screen paintings, one must work in a group with all the disciples; therefore, in order to make group work easier, the ability to learn from painting examples was valued more than one's individuality as a painter. In this respect it is undeniable that the paintings of the Kano school lack individuality and originality.

It is said that the inner court painters ranked with Hatamoto and were allowed 'audience' with the Shogun as well as belting on a sword, which implies a high status. The four families of the inner court painters are the Kajibashi family, with lineage of Tanyu (the first son of Takanobu KANO); the Kobikicho family (called Takekawa-cho family at the time), with lineage of Naonobu (the second son of Takanobu); the Nakabashi family with lineage of Yasunobu (the third son of Takanobu); and the Hamacho family, with lineage of Minenobu KANO (1662 - 1708) (Minenobu is the second son of Tsunenobu KANO, the first son of Naonobu KANO). Because Tanyu had no child, he adopted Toun (Masunobu KANO 1625 - 1694), the son of Ryujo GOTO, a swordsmith. Later, Morimasa KANO (1653 - 1718) who was his biological son (born after Tanyu turned 50) succeeded him, but subsequently this lineage had no distinguished painter. Among the numerous disciples of Tanyu, Morikage KUSUMI (birth and death dates unknown), the creator of "Enjoying the Cool of the Evening Under the Moonflower Trellis," is renowned. Morikage was for some reason expelled from the Kano school; he worked in the Kanazawa area later, but his records aren't completely clear.

As stated previously, the head family of Kano was succeeded by the Nakabashi Family of Yasunobu, a brother of Tanyu. Tokinobu KANO (1642 - 1678), a son of Yasunobu, died in his thirties, and his son Ujinobu KANO (1675 - 1724) succeeded the family estate; however, subsequently this lineage had no distinguished painter. Itcho HANABUSA (1652 - 1724), who was popular based on his sophisticated painting style, was a disciple of Yasunobu. The family that produced relatively prominent painters until the end of the Edo period among the four families of the inner court painters is the Kobikicho family, of Naonobu's lineage. This family line produced Tsunenobu KANO (1636 - 1713), the heir of Naonobu, and Tsunenobu's sons, Chikanobu KANO (1660 - 1728) and Minenobu KANO (1662 - 1708). Minenobu won the favor of the Shogun Ienobu TOKUGAWA, and he later gained independence as 'Hamacho family,' which was ranked as one of the inner court painter families. Besides them, Koi KANO (date of birth unknown - 1636) was not related by blood to the Kano family but, along with his brothers, was a master of Tanyu; he was allowed to use the surname of Kano due to his achievements, and he worked for the Kishu Tokugawa family.

Meanwhile, a group called 'Kyo Kano' remained active in Kyoto, and Sanraku KANO (1559 - 1635), a disciple of Eitoku KANO, was the pillar of the group. Sanraku was from the Kimura clan in Omi, the vassal of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI; his original name was Mitsuyori KIMURA. His best works are "Peonies" and "Red and White Plum Trees" in the main house of Kyoto Daikaku-ji Temple, and they have colorful and decorative pictures on a golden base. Sansetsu KANO (1589/90 - 1651), the husband of Sanraku's daughter, created the screen paintings in Tenkyuin, Myoshin-ji Temple as well as some paintings of folding screens, which are still in existence. He had a distinctive painting style unique among painters of the Kano school, such as distinct shapes of trees and rocks, as well as the completeness of detail. The essay on paintings made by Sansetsu and edited by his son Eino KANO (1631 - 1697) is entitled "Honchogashi," the first full-fledge painting history book by a Japanese.

The Kobikicho family produced Michinobu KANO (Michinobu EISENIN (1730 - 1790)), Korenobu KANO (Korenobu YOSENIN (1753 - 1808)), Naganobu KANO (Naganobu ISENIN (1775 - 1828)) and Osanobu KANO (Osanobu SEISENIN (1786 - 1846)) during the late Edo period. Osanobu SEISENIN led the creation of numerous screen paintings as a master of the Kano school during the reconstruction of the Nishinomaru and Honmaru palaces of Edo Castle, which had burned down in 1838 and again in 1844. Although the paintings are no longer in existence, numerous designs are in the possession of the Tokyo National Museum. SEISENIN also endeavored to copy and collect ancient paintings. Although the painters of the Kano school in the late Edo period are not well appreciated generally, there is a move to reappraise SEISENIN as the progress of the study after the late twentieth century recognizes that he was a painter with good technique who eagerly studied art from ancient paintings and on to the new painting movement at the end of the Edo period.

Hogai KANO (born in Shimonoseki, 1828 - 1888), a leading figure of the Japanese art world during the early Meiji period, like Gaho HASHIMOTO (born in Kawagoe, 1835 - 1908), was a disciple of Tadanobu KANO (Tadanobu SHOSEN'IN 1823 - 1880), the next generation of SEISENIN. Both Hogai and Gaho were from painter families of the Kano school. The historical role of the Kano school as a professional painter group finished as its patron, the Edo shogunate, ended.

Birds and Flowers of Spring and Summer, Kanō Einō
"Shun-Ka Kacho-zu" by Kano Eino

The Rinpa School

Overview of The Rinpa School
The Rinpa school refers to artists and craftsmen in the Edo period who used a similar style, including Sotatsu TAWARAYA and Korin OGATA.

Sotatsu TAWARAYA (the early Edo period), Korin OGATA (1658 – 1716), and Hoitsu SAKAI (1761 – 1828) were regarded as Edo Rinpa.

Korin was strongly influenced by Sotatsu while Hoitsu was deeply influenced by Korin. Pupils of other schools in the Edo period such as the Kano school and the Maruyama school learned painting technique directly from their teachers by copying their works. The Rinpa style, on the other hand, was inherited by people of various social standings living in different times and locations, which is a unique characteristic of this school. While the Rinpa school maintained its identity by deliberately choosing and following similar subjects, design and unique technique, artists added their own discoveries and interpretations to augment the existing style. The Rinpa school thus developed a new art which is not merely imitation or epigonism.

Appellation of The Rinpa School
In the past, Korin OGATA, Kenzan OGATA and Hoitsu SAKAI who took over their style were regarded as a school, being referred to as the 'Korin school,' whereas, the Korin school, in addition to the artists such as Sotatsu TAWARAYA and Koetsu HONAMI, who were considered to be the predecessors of that school, were collectively known as the 'Sotatsu-Korin school. 'Today, it is more commonly referred to as the 'Rinpa school. '

Characteristics of The Rinpa School
The characteristics of the Rinpa school include the use of gold and silver leaves in the background, daring picture compositions, repetitions of stencil patterns and Tarashikomi technique (a technique that achieves shading through pooling successive layers of partially dried pigment). The subjects were predominantly flowering trees/shrubs and flowers, but there were some works including narrative pictures depicting people, birds and animals, landscapes and nature as well as a few Buddhist paintings.

The Influence of The Rinpa School
The Rinpa school has had a major impact on the Impressionist school in Europe as well as contemporary Japanese-style painting and design. Fujin Raijin zu (the Wind and Thunder Gods) has been painted by numerous artists that have often been compared against one another.

At the 'RIMPA' Exhibit held at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo in 2004, it was said that the 'Rinpa influence' was detected in the works of Gustav Klimt and Andy Warhol in addition to some Japanese-style paintings (by various artists including Shunso HISHIDA and Taikan YOKOYAMA) after the Meiji period.

With regard to architecture, the Rinpa school had influence on the Art Nouveau style in view of simplification of beauty.

Fujin Raijin Byobuzu
Fujin Raijin Byobuzu

The Shijo School

Overview of The Shijo School
The Shijo school is a large group among those of the Japanese painting world. Around the Mid-Edo period, Goshun MATSUMURA founded it and Toyohiko OKAMOTO, Keibun MATSUMURA and others developed it to a force of the Kyoto painting circles, then Bunrin SHIOKAWA, Bairei KONO, Seiho TAKEUCHI, Suisho NISHIYAMA, Insho DOMOTO and others took over and it continues to this day.

The Shijo school started as a painter group founded by Goshun MATSUMURA.

At the beginning Goshun studied Haikai (amusing and playful waka) and literati painting (Nanga: a school of Chinese painting) under Buson YOSA. After that, he stayed in Ikeda City, Osaka Prefecture at one time and then went back to Kyoto to be a pupil of Okyo MARUYAMA, but Okyo refused the request and treat him as his best friend. Then Goshun studied the realism of Okyo under him and built the unique painting style.

Toyohiko OKAMOTO, a pupil of Goshun, and Keibun MATSUMURA, a younger brother and pupil of Goshun, and other pupils built their residences on the Shijo street and therefore they were called "Shijo school"

From that period, they started to visit the Imperial Court and on the other hand they had the support of people in Kyoto, which developed the Shijo school further.

Among the many pupils of Toyohiko and Keibun, Bunrin SHIOKAWA, a pupil of Toyohiko, showed unusual talent, so he became the successor of the Shijo school.

In the Meiji period and after, Bunrin adopted the techniques of Western paintings, which changed the painting style of the Shijo school. He taught Bairei KONO the techniques who became the successor of Bunrin. Bairei KONO was more of a teacher than a painter and trained a lot of pupils such as Seiho TAKEUCHI and Hobun KIKUCHI.

In the Meji period, Seiho TAKEUCHI succeeded the Shijo school practically. He adopted the technique of realism from the Kano school and Western paintings willingly and changed the painting style of the Shijo school again.

After that time, a lot of pupils started to work actively and individually like Shoen UEMURA, Suisho NISHIYAMA and others like Goun NISHIMURA, Bakusen TSUCHIDA, Chikkyo ONO, Yoson IKEDA.

Then, Insho DOMOTO, Shoko UEMURA, Daizaburo NAKMURA and others played active roles and the Shijo school continued up to the present.

The Early days of The Shijo School (Edo period)
As already written in the summary above, the Shijo school is derived from the Maruyama school, but it doesn't mean that Goshun MATSUMURA conflicted with Okyo MARUYAMA. He rather took the realism of Okyo in his own style and developed it uniquely on the basis of literati painting (Nanga) learned from Buson and built up the Shijo school. In other words, the Shijo school is one of the developed styles of the Maruyama school.

Goshun was so efficient that he built up his own painting style easily. A lot of people came to him to be his pupils and to learn the style. The leading people are Keibun MATSUMURA, his younger brother, Toyohiko OKAMOTO from Mizue Village in Bicchu Province, Gito SHIBATA from Bizen Province, Kaisen ODA from Akamagaseki in Nagato Province.

The pupils of Goshun improved together through friendly rivalry. Among them, Toyohiko and Keibun especially stood out; people often said "the birds and flowers of Keibun or the landscapes of Toyohiko".

Keibun and Toyohiko also accepted a lot of pupils: Keibun's pupils include Hoen NISHIYAMA, Gyokuho HASEGAWA and Seiki YOKOYAMA, and Toyohiko's pupils include Bunrin SHIOKAWA, Sukehiko OKAMOTO, Zeshin SHIBATA and Nikka TANAKA. They both had a large number of people of the school, but Toyohiko succeeded the Shijo school.

Toyohiko was associated with the Arisugawa no miya imperial family and used to visit the Imperial Court, and his works remain in Shugakuin Imperial Villa. In addition, Sukehiko OKOMOTO, a pupil and adopted son of Toyohiko, was requested fusuma (a thick papered sliding door for partitioning rooms in a Japanese house) paintings when the Kyoto Imperial Palace was rebuilt in 1855.

Among those pupils of Toyohiko, especially Bunrin SHIOKAWA showed the talent. He was so talented that Goshun praised him when he was a child. Bunrin also drew a portrait of Toyohiko. It may have been natural that Bunrin succeeded the Shijo school.

The Developing Period of The Shijo School (Meiji and Taisho period)
Because Bunrin SHIOKAWA adopted the techniques of Western paintings willingly, the painting style of the Shijo school changed in the Meiji period. He broke the traditional style of composition and coloring, adopted watercolor techniques and expressed colors which had never seen in the traditional Japanese paintings in a landscape-oriented picture. In that sense, Bunrin was a pioneer of the times.

Bunrin also accepted a lot of pupils and among them Bairei KONO became the successor. The painting style of Bairei had no striking features, but he followed the style created by Bunrin faithfully and also had an ability in a wide variety of painting styles.

But Bairei showed himself at his best in the field of education. He proposed the governor of Kyoto Prefecture to establish Kyoto Prefectural School of Painting (future Kyoto City University of Arts) and taught there. He also trained a lot of pupils in his own private school. Among them there were so called "the big four of Bairei" including Seiho TAKEUCHI, Hobun KIKUCHI, Kako TSUJI, Kokyo TANIGUCHI and also Shoen UEMURA who studied under Seiho after the death of Bairei. On his educational policy, Bairei first trained them in the basics thoroughly and then set them free, so they were afraid of Bairei first, but actually he took care of them well and always tried to cheer them up.

After Bairei died, among "the big four of Bairei" Seiho TAKEUCHI showed the talent especially, and after graduated from Kyoto Prefectural School of Painting he became famous as a leader of young painters in Kyoto. He was selected as a "Teishitsu Gigeiin" (selected artist by Imperial Household Ministry) and won the first Order of Culture and became the top of Kyoto painting circles both in name and reality.

After that the pupils of Seiho and Hobun KIKUCHI played active roles of their own.

Famous people among them are Shoen UEMURA, Suisho NISHIYAMA and others like Goun NISHIMURA, Bakusen TSUCHIDA, Chikkyo ONO, Yoson IKEDA, Kokyo TANIGUCHI, Kansetsu HASHIMOTO, Keigetsu KIKUCHI.

The Stabilized Period of The Shijo School (Showa and Heisei period)
In the Showa period, because of the threat of war Seiho sometimes cooperated with the military.

But after the war, Insho DOMOTO and Shoko Uemura who both won Order of Culture and others like Daizaburo NAKAMURA and Tekison UDA played active roles, and their pupils are active now.

Asagao Koinu-no-zu
Asagao Koinu-no-zu

Ukiyo-e Painting


One-of-a-kind Japanese Painting was born in Samurai Period
Ukiyo-e is a style of Japanese painting flourished in Samurai period (17 to 19th century). It was normally created by woodblock printing, and enjoyed by common people in the cities. “Ukiyo” means floating world, which refers to the daily life of common people in a city. Ukiyo-e portrays the popular manners and customs of those days, in the same way as Trend Magazines of today. Popular themes of Ukiyo-e were the famous persons of the time, such as beautiful women, famous kabuki actors, and strong sumo wrestlers. Other themes including myths, folk tales, beautiful sceneries, famous samurais, and erotica were also popular.

Ukiyo-e Portray Epicurean Lifestyle of Edo city
In early 17th century, Edo (modern Tokyo) became the capital of samurai government at the time. Common people especially the merchants were gradually getting wealthy due to the rapid growth of the economy of the city. As a result, many of them indulged in the entertainments of Kabuki theatre, prostitutes, and Geisha of the pleasure districts. The epidemic of this hedmic life style in Edo city produced the Ukiyo-e paintings.

Ukiyo-e Painting was evolved by New Technologies and Artists
Ukiyo-eThe earliest success was in the 1670s with Moronobu's paintings and monochromatic prints of beautiful women. Color prints became common gradually, at first added by hand and only for special commissions. By the 1740s, artists such as Masanobu used multiple woodblocks to print areas of color. From the 1760s, the success of Harunobu's "brocade prints" made full-color production as standard, each works used ten or more blocks. The peak period in terms of quality and quantity was marked by portraits of beauties and actors by masters such as Kiyonaga, Utamaro, and Sharaku in the late 18th century. This peak was followed in the 19th century by two well-known masters for their landscapes: the bold formalist Hokusai, whose Great Wave off Kanagawa is one of the best-known works of Japanese art; and the serene, atmospheric Hiroshige, most noted for the series The Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido. Following the deaths of these two masters, and against the technological and social modernization that followed the Meiji Restoration of 1868, ukiyo-e production went into steep decline.

Strong Influence on Western Artist
The arrival of American Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853 made Japan open to the outside world after over two centuries of isolation. Perry brought back many ukiyo-e and other Japanese paintings to United States. Such works had appeared in Paris from the 1850s, and Japanese paintings drew notice at the International Exhibition of 1867 in Paris. From the 1870s, Japanese arts especially including ukiyo-e became fashionable in many european countries, and “Japonism” became prominent trend. In Japonism, ukiyo-e had strong influence on many western artists, the early Impressionists such as Degas, Manet, and Monet, as well as Post-Impressionists such as van Gogh and Art Nouveau artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec.

Souma no Kodairi
Souma no Kodairi
Fugaku Sanjurokkei
Fugaku Sanjurokkei, Kanagawa Okinami Ura
Go-oku no Hiki Hajime
Go-oku no Hiki Hajime
Fugaku Sanjurokkei, Fuji-san
Fugaku Sanjurokkei, Gaifu Kaisei
Tokaido Goju Santsugi, Yoruno Yuki
Tokaido Goju Santsugi, Yoruno Yuki

Art Gallery of Japanese Painting

Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Painting Art Piece
Must Visit Spots

For More Information
google plus
See Also
Encyclopedia of Japan