KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Authoritative Summary of the Rules of Japanese Painting by Tosa Mitsuoki 土佐光起 (1617-91). As part of Mitsuoki's attempt to return the Tosa family to prominence in the early Edo period art world, HONCHOU GAHOU TAIDEN can be seen as a way of keeping up with Kanou school *Kanouha 狩野派 works on painting theory *garon 画論, such as *KOUSOSHUU 後素集 and *HONCHOU GASHI 本朝画史. Written in 1690, the book ostensibly seeks to transmit the secrets of Tosa painting to future generations. There are 50 sections, divided into theory, practice, and criticism. The theory sections include fundamental Chinese ideas on painting, such as the Six Laws *rikuhou 六法 and Three Classifications *sanpin 三品, which were first copied by Kanou Ikkei 狩野一渓 (1599-1662) in KOUSOSHUU. Mitsuoki does not merely copy, he interprets, adding his own views and applying the ideas to the Japanese context. Practical sections include instructions on materials, making pigments, and how to paint human anatomy, including a precise description of painting the human face. There are also sections on placement of seals. The final section consists of critiques of painters and paintings from ancient to modern times. As may be expected, Kanou artists are degraded while Tosa artists are praised. The crux of Mitsuoki's argument is that art should be realistic, but not an exact replica of nature. Rather, the spirit of the subject should be captured as a result of the artist's deep understanding of the laws of nature. To this end, Mitsuoki stresses the observation of nature as well as scholarship in natural science, history and religion.


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