Landscape of four seasons: winter

Sesshu ToyoMuromachi period, 15th century

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo, Japan

This set of paintings is painted by Sesshū when he was in China. It is an exceptionally large Shiki Sansui (landscapes of the four seasons) painted on silk, with a composition that is dynamic, but firmly structured and stable. Its size, material, motifs, and style are each explicitly Chinese. Besides, each scroll has the signature phrase "Nihon Zenjin Toyo" (Japanese Zen person Toyo), the seal with "Toyo" in white letters, and the collector's seals that reads Kotakuō Chingan no Shō (Jp) (mark of appreciation by king Kotaku). Because of his deliberate use of the word Nihon in the signature-phrase, and the fact that Kotakuō was one of the titles given to the royal family of the Ming dynasty, it appears that Sesshū created these paintings while in China and tried to imitate the Ming style of painting. The way the rocks are painted is similar to Seppa (Ch: Zhe school, a group of painters in the Ming period), so probably Sesshū was trying to approach the painting style of Ba En (Ch: Ma Yuan) and Ka Kei (Ch: Xia Guei) which was revived by Seppa and popular in China then.We can see that the landscapes of the four seasons were an important repertoire for Sesshū from the fact that there were other landscapes of the four seasons (fan-shaped) imitating Ka Kei, there is an existing version of the same theme formerly owned by the Kuroda family (Ishibashi Museum of Art: Asian Gallery, Ishibashi Foundation), and that there is Genryu Shuko's praise on Sesshū's landscapes of the four seasons "Shikeizu Ikkeiippuku Youchikyakuhitsu" (jp) (the scrolls of the four landscapes / one landscape for one scroll / painted by Sesshū, from Hantō Bunshū), written in Entoku 1 (1489) . However, in the history of painting in the Muromachi period, and in the context of Sesshū's painting career after he returned, it is evident that these pieces are isolated with regard to the painting style. In other words, the Chinese taste is explicit.The images of the person on a donkey and the attendant at the bottom left of the spring landscape resemble those painted in the landscape (Kyoto National Museum) by Sessō Toyo, the name that is regarded as used by Sesshū before he began using "Sesshū." Thus, we can also see a link between Sesshū in the Sessō phase and him in the Sesshū phase in this work.


  • Title: Landscape of four seasons: winter
  • Creator: Sesshu Toyo
  • Creator Lifespan: 1420-1506?
  • Date Created: Muromachi period, 15th century
  • Physical Dimensions: w758 x h1490 mm
  • Object Title: 四季山水図(冬)
  • Object Notes(Japanese): 雪舟が中国滞在中に描いた作品である。絹に描かれた非常に大きい四季山水で、構図はダイナミックでありながらも骨組みがしっかりしていて安定感がある。大きさ、材質、題材、画風がいずれもきわめて中国的であり、以上に加えて、各幅に「日本禅人等楊」の款と「等楊」の白文方印、「光沢王府珍玩之章」という鑑蔵印があり、款記にわざわざ「日本」と書いていることと、「光沢王」が明の王族に与えられる称号の一つであることから、雪舟が入明中に明の画風に倣って描いたとものと考えられる。岩の描き方は浙派風であり、雪舟は中国で流行していた浙派風の馬遠・夏珪スタイルに近づこうとしたのであろう。 雪舟が四季山水を重要なレパートリーとしていたことは、本図のほかにも倣夏珪の四季山水図(団扇形)があったことや、現存する黒田家旧蔵本(石橋財団石橋美術館別館)、彦龍周興が延徳元年(一四八九)に雪舟の四季山水図四幅対に題した「四景図 一景一幅 楊知客筆」(『半陶文集』)にうかがえる。ただ室町時代の絵画史において、そして雪舟自身の帰国後の画業においても、本図が画風的に孤立した作品であることは否めない。いいかえれば、それほど中国的傾向が強いといえるのである。 春景の左下隅の驢馬(ろば)に乗る人物と従者は、雪舟の前身とされる画家、拙宗等揚の山水図(京都国立博物館)のそれによく似ており、本図には拙宗と雪舟をつなぐ要素も認められる。
  • Object Date: 室町時代・15世紀
  • Artist Name: 雪舟等楊筆
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: http://www.emuseum.jp/detail/100310/004

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