All over the world museums are competing with other museums for copies of Japanese paintings. Let’s see what all the fuss is all about:
Kanō Tanyū (狩野探幽) was and is a very famous painter. He lived in the 1600s and was known for painting nature and animal scenes. In fact, the painting on the left is typical of the type of paintings he was known for. It is a drawing of some trees near a stream. A lot of Kanō’s works were large and painted on a grand scale. They were usually commissioned by wealthy and powerful patrons that could afford to buy large scale paintings.
Itō Jakuchū (伊藤若冲) was a painter who lived in the 1700s. He used Western and Japanese painting techniques, and was known to draw bright and exotic subjects like phoenixes and tigers. Itō was a contradiction in every sense. On the one hand, he lived the commercial life of a painter, but he was a deeply religious man. The painting on the left is a drawing of chrysanthemums near a stream, and very unlike the monastic paintings of the period.
In the beginning of Matsumura Goshun’s (松村呉春) career, Matsumua had great difficulty making a name for himself as a painter. When his first mentor died, he formed a different style of painting different from his mentor. From this style of painting he formed a prominent school of painting. The irony is that even though he developed his own style of painting, he was associated with his mentor’s style of painting to his death. The painting on the left is Matsumura’s painting of a blue heron on a tree.
Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎) is best known for Kanagawa Oki Nami Ura (神奈川沖浪裏), which means “The GreatWave off Kanagawa”. This woodcut print is internationally known all over the world, but it wasn’t the only painting that he drew in his lifetime. Before “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” paintings, his usual subjects were courtesans and actors. However, after he saw Fuji Mountain he started to draw more landscape paintings.
Watanabe Kazan (渡辺崋山) was a member of the samurai class. He was torn between loyalty to his lord and accepting Western ideas. He learned to paint realistically by using shading techniques from European paintings. As Watanabe grew more and more accepting of Western paintings and ideas, his relationship with his lord became strained. He eventually committed suicide, but his paintings continued to gain recognition. The painting on the left is typical of his realistic style of painting.