Rinpa 琳派
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
 
A school of painters and decorative artists, which began in 17c Kyoto and then spread to Kanazawa and Edo. The term Rinpa became popular during the Meiji period, when the word rin 琳 was borrowed from Ogata Kourin 尾形光琳 (1658-1716), with the implied meaning of the Kourin school Kourinha 光琳派. Other late 19c for the same school terms include the Kouetsuha 光悦派 (still used today), and the Kouetsu-Kourinha 光悦光琳派. Recently the term Soutatsu-Kourinha 宗達光琳派 has come into use, reflecting a reevaluation of the creative importance of Soutatsu.
Rinpa artists connected to one another by family and patronage, and though they worked on various formats, notably screens, fans and hanging scrolls, woodblock printed books, lacquerware, ceramics, and kimono 着物 textiles, each group seemed to truly admire the others' work. The Rinpa artists recalled the *yamato-e やまと絵 traditions of the Heian period, both in subject matter and style. In addition, elements from Muromachi period ink painting, Ming dynasty flower-and-grasses paintings, as well as the Kanou school *Kanouha 狩野派 and other artistic developments of the Momoyama period also became a part of the style. The emphasis on design elements and technique became more pronounced as the years progressed, with increased refinement and polish being one of the characteristics of later Rinpa. Techniques which were Rinpa hallmarks like dripping *tarashikomi 溜込, for example, were adopted by other schools such as the *Maruyama-Shijouha 円山四条派. The influence of Rinpa was strong throughout the early modern period and after, and even today Rinpa style paintings and designs are popular.
Patronage came at first from the affluent merchant town elite and the old Kyoto aristocratic families, who favoured courtly culture and art which followed classical tradition. With the growing power and prestige of Edo, patronage spread to the shogunate and other members of the upper class.
The school began in Kyoto with Honnami Kouetsu 本阿弥光悦 (1558-1637), who in 1615 founded the artistic community of craftsmen with their families supported by wealthy merchant patrons of the *Nichiren 日蓮 sect at Takagamine 鷹ケ峰 in northeastern Kyoto. There many collaborative works especially in ceramics, calligraphy and lacquerware were produced. One of Kouetsu's major collaborators was Soutatsu 宗達 (? - 1640?), who maintained a Kyoto atelier *eya 絵屋, called the *Tawaraya 俵屋 and produced a broad range of commercial painting such as decorative fans and screening. One of their most important collaborations was between Soutatsu (or his workshop as most designs are unsigned,) who decorated paper *ryoushi 料紙 especially with under painting in gold/silver, and Kouetsu who added calligraphy, for example the Deer Scroll Shika-zu 鹿図, (Seatle Museum in USA). The underpainting uses the *mokkotsu 没骨 technique, and its effects to presage the dripped technique of tarashikomi a characteristic of Rinpa. Among the best well-known independent paintings credited to Soutatsu are the screens Wind and Thunder Gods Fuujin Raijin-zu 風神雷神図 (Kenninji 建仁寺 in Kyoto, unsigned), and Matsushima-zu 松島図 (Freer Gallery in USA). Soutatsu extensively used techniques, motifs and themes from the yamato-e tradition, building on the classical past based on Heian courtly taste. Other 17c artists around Kouetsu were Honnami Kousa 本阿弥光瑳 (1578?-1637) and Kouho 光甫 (1601-82). Tawaraya Sousetsu 俵屋宗雪 (act. mid-17c), who moved from Kyoto to Kanazawa carried on Soutatsu's idiom. At this new workshop, Sousetsu, followed by Kitagawa Sousetsu 喜多川相説 (act. mid-17c) and others produced many screens, most notably of flowers and grasses, until the 19c.
During the Genroku 元禄 era (1688-1743) the Rinpa tradition was continued by Ogata Kourin and his younger brother Ogata Kenzan 尾形乾山 (1663-1743). These two well-educated artists were the sons of a rich textile merchant in Kyoto. Kourin studied Kanou painting and then the work of Soutatsu. A masterpiece by Kourin is the screens of the Red and White Plum (Prunus) Trees Kouhakubai-zu 紅白梅図 (ca. 1714/5, Museum of Art MOA in Shizuoka prefecture). The decorative tour-de-force with a dramatic composition, using tarashikomi and the manner established the direction of the Rinpa for the remainder of its history. Kourin collaborated with Kenzan in painting designs and calligraphy on his brother's pottery. Kenzan remained as a potter in Kyoto until after Kourin's death in 1716 when he began to paint professionally. He often based paintings on poems, such as a hanging scroll Baskets of Flowers and Grasses Hanakago-zu 花篭図, Fukuoka 福岡 Munincipal Museum. Other Rinpa artists active in the 18c were Tatebayashi Kagei 立林何げい (act. mid-18c), Tawaraya Souri 俵屋宗理 (act. late 18c) of Edo, Watanabe Shikou 渡辺始興 (1683-1755), Fukae Roshuu 深江蘆舟 (1699-1757) of Kyoto and Nakamura Houchuu 中村方仲 (act. late 18c/early 19c) of Osaka.
The Rinpa tradition was carried on into the 19c by Sakai Houitsu 酒井抱一 (1761-1828) of Edo. He studied Kanou painting and Nanpin style (see *Nanpinha 南蘋派) and then developed an interest in Kourin as he had access to works in his family collection, and published books about the master's art. An excellent example of the urbanity and style (echoing past masters) found in Houitsu's painting is the Summer and Autumn Grasses Natsu akikusa-zu 夏秋草図 executed on the back of Kourin's Wind and Thunder Gods screen Fuujin Raijin-zu 風神雷神図 (Tokyo National Museum). Houitsu's gifted student, Suzuki Kiitsu 鈴木其一 (1796-1858) was adopted into the Sakai family through marriage and served as Houitsu's assistant until his master's death. The screens of the Rapids in Summer and Autumn Kashuu keiryuu-zu 夏秋渓流図 (Nezu 根津 Museum in Tokyo) is a well-known example of his work that shows a more refined and delicate adaption of Houitsu's style .
 
 

 
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