The Natural World: Naturalistic Practices in Japanese Art

This gallery features the artwork of the natural world of Japan. Depictions of nature in ancient Japan was a very significant trend. In this gallery, I feature artwork from the Edo period a graceful time period in which painters used elegant brush strokes and their imaginations to create classical and timeless pieces. Much of the pieces from this time period were painted onto folding screens, fans, and hanging scrolls and specialized in gold and silver backgrounds. This style of painting was influenced from traditions of Yamatoe, Muromachi ink paintings, and the Ming Dynasty style of trees and flowers. During this time period, there was a large emphasis on painting flowers and birds with gold leaf. The Kano School was famous for these types of paintings. The Edo period saw the rise of another popular form of painting known as Bunjinja. This genre of art was heavily influenced by the Chinese Yuan Dynasty. These paintings are usually painted with black ink or very light color and featured stunning Japanese and Chinese landscapes. The focus of this style was not to create a realistic depiction of nature, but focused on the rhythm of nature in illustrated forms.  "Japanese Literati Painting in the Edo Period - Boundless Open Textbook." Boundless. Boundless, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2016. "Kano School Painting in the Edo Period - Boundless Open Textbook." Boundless. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2016. "Rinpa School Painting in the Edo Period - Boundless Open Textbook." Boundless. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.

Art historian Ichimatsu Tanaka challenged this long-held notion in a 1960 article, "Concerning a Screen Painting of Exile on Oki," proposing that the man represented here may be the other emperor exiled to Okinoshima, Gotoba-in (r. 1184-1198). His exile, too, was chronicled in the Masukagami. Source: "An Exiled Emperor on Okinoshima." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.
This painting from the Edo period shows the cherry blossom tree blooming using gold, ink, and tint on paper. The emphasis of this piece is the big cherry blossom tree and its flowers. It shows movement as your eyes follow the branches and then flowers stemming off of them. There is movement in the hills as well.
Sesshu's painting style also reflects Chinese sources in its emphasis on three-dimensional form and observation of the natural world. His interest in dramatic compositions emphasizing spatial depth can be seen in the large, gnarled branch in the foreground of the screen at left, which disappears into water and reemerges to frame a view of the distant, snow-covered mountains. Precise control of ink tones and brush technique, which Sesshu learned from his study of Chinese painting, enhance the expressive quality of this image. Source: "Open F|S: Birds and Flowers of the Four Seasons: Spring and Summer." Freer. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
In this environment, the activities that most command our attention are those of the painter Ogata Korin (1658-1716) in Kyoto and the early ukiyoe artists, most prominently Hishikawa Moronobu (? - 1694). Korin is stylistically rather close to Sotatsu, but his pair of folding screens titled Red and White Plum Trees showed many fresh and innovative techniques. Source: "PHEdoJ." PHEdoJ. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
Areas of subject matter where Chinese influence has been repeatedly significant include Buddhist religious painting, ink-wash painting of landscapes in the Chinese literati painting tradition, calligraphy of ideographs, and the painting of animals and plants, especially birds and flowers. However distinctively Japanese traditions have developed in all these fields. Source:"Japanese Painting." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
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