Kanō Tan'yū

Mar 4, 1602 - Nov 4, 1674

Kanō Tan'yū was one of the foremost Japanese painters of the Kanō school. His original given name was Morinobu; he was the eldest son of Kanō Takanobu and grandson of Kanō Eitoku. Many of the most famous and widely known Kanō works today are by Tan'yū.
In 1617, Tan'yū was appointed by the Tokugawa shogunate to become the shogunate's first official painter. Over the following years, he was given many highly prestigious commissions. Over the 1620s and 1630s, he created a number of large-scale works for Edo Castle, Nijō Castle, Osaka Castle, Nagoya Castle, and Nikkō Tōshō-gū.
Prolific in a variety of painting styles, Tan'yū's most famous works are probably those he produced for these large-scale commissions. They are screens and panels, prime examples of the Momoyama style, depicting natural subjects such as tigers, birds and plants, in bright colors and with extensive use of gold leaf. The gold, often used to represent clouds, water, or other background elements, would reflect what little light was available indoors, brightening a castle's dark rooms.
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