Kanō Seisen'in Osanobu, copy after the handscroll Landscapes of the Four Seasons by Sesshū


British Museum

British Museum

This is a copy after the celebrated handscroll Landscapes of the Four Seasons, painted in 1486 by the famous and highly revered artist Sesshū Tōyō, and now classed as a National Treasure in Japan. The postscript to this copy tells us more precisely that it is in fact a copy of an earlier copy - by Kanō Eisen Hisanobu (1696-1731). Osanobu (1796-1846) executed this 16 metre long scroll when he was only 15 years old (14 by Western reckoning).

The scroll is filled with scenes of mountains, craggy rocks, trees, expanses of water, and figures looking almost lost in the vastness of the landscape. It features the thick, sharp brushwork of Sesshū, and cross-hatched shading. It is mostly done in black, with touches of colour for the foliage and human figures, as can be seen in the section illustrated here.

Osanobu attached great importance to the study of classical paintings, and produced a large number of copies. This practice was valued to help improve brush techniques, but could descend into slavish imitation. Osanobu, fortunately, was talented enough to avoid this.

The signature reads 'Gyokusen Osanobu jūgo-sai sha' ('Painted by Gyokusen Osanobu at age 15') and the seals read 'Osanobu bo' ('Copied by Osanobu') and 'Gyokusen'.

Show lessRead more


  • Title: Kanō Seisen'in Osanobu, copy after the handscroll Landscapes of the Four Seasons by Sesshū
  • Date Created: 1810/1810
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 43.00cm; Width: 1607.90cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: landscape
  • Registration number: 1881,1210,0.1226
  • Production place: Painted in Japan
  • Producer: Painted by Osanobu, Kano Seisen'in. After Kano Eisen'in Furunobu. Designed by Sesshu
  • Period/culture: Bunka Era
  • Material: paper
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Anderson, William