Kanouha 狩野派
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
A hereditary school of professional artists, patronized by military governments from the late Muromachi to the early Meiji periods. The Kanou school produced a large number of talented and distinguished painters, who worked in a wide variety of formats and styles on themes such as Buddhist subjects, Chinese figures, bird-and-flower paintings, animals, landscapes, genre paintings *fuuzokuga 風俗画, *nanban byoubu 南蛮屏風 (nanban screens), and even maps of Japan and the world. The founder of the school, Kanou Masanobu 狩野正信 (1434-1530), was a painter of samurai 侍 origin and succeeded Oguri Soutan 小栗宗湛 (1413-81) as an official painter *goyou-eshi 御用絵師 to the Muromachi shogunate. He worked on both ink-painting *suibokuga 水墨画, a new trend started by the 14c Zen priest-painters, and colorful *yamato-e やまと絵 of Japanese origin. In ink-painting, in particular, he invented an original style employing light colors and simple compositions, which became very popular among the military government at that time. Kanou Motonobu 狩野元信 (1476-1559, Masanobu's son), further strengthened the school by expanding his social and political connections to the upper strata of Muromachi society. Motonobu is credited with having established the orthodox Kanou style by combining yamato-e themes and techniques with ink-painting. This achievement is called by modern scholars the synthesis of Japanese and Chinese, wakan yuugou 和漢融合. Motonobu also instituted a studio system that ensured the continued training of generations of painters. His son, Shouei 松栄 (1519-92) passed this tradition on to the next, his own son, Eitoku 永徳 (1543-90), who established a new heroic style. Patronized by Oda Nobunaga 織田信長 (1534-82) and then Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉 (1536-98), Eitoku produced monumental works at various rulers' castles and mansions. Responding to the demands of both patronage and architecture, Eitoku created a new, magnificent and brilliant style of painting on gold-foil backgrounds *kinpeki shouhekiga 金壁障屏画. Huge trees, regal animals such as tigers, hawks and lions, as well as Chinese figural themes became part of these aggressive and confident designs. A representative example of Eitoku's grand style is the pair of huge screens called the Chinese Lions, Karajishi-zu 唐獅子図 (Imperial collection). Eitoku also employed genre themes. A pair of screens of the Scenes In and Around Kyoto *Rakuchuu rakugai-zu 洛中洛外図 (Uesugi 上杉 collection), was recorded to have been presented by Nobunaga to Uesugi Kenshin 上杉謙信 (1530-78) in 1574. It is often cited as a forerunner of genre painting as developed in the 17c. Other early Kanou artists who employed genre themes included Kanou Hideyori 狩野秀頼 (d.1557); Maple Viewing of Mt. Takao, Takao kanpuu-zu 高雄観楓図 (Tokyo National Museum), Naganobu 長信 (1577-1654); Merrymaking Under the Cherry Blossoms, Kaka *yuuraku-zu 花下遊楽図 (Tokyo National Museum) and Naizen 内膳 (1570-1616); Houkoku Festival, Houkoku sairei-zu 豊国祭礼図 (Houkoku Jinja 豊国神社, Kyoto. See *Houkokusai 豊国祭). Two major Kanou artists of the late 16c were Mitsunobu 光信 (1561/65-1608; Eitoku's son), and Sanraku 山楽 (1559-1635; Eitoku's disciple). These painters did not continue their master's monumental style but worked in their own manner, characterized by more fragmented compositions, quieter moods, delicacy, elegance and decorativeness. Sansetsu 山雪 (1589/90-1651; Sanraku's heir), became the leader of the Kanou school in Kyoto *Kyouganou 京狩野. Einou 永納 (1631-97; Sansetsu's son), is most famous as the author of the *HONCHOU GASHI 本朝画史, one of the earliest biographical histories of the artists of Japan. It was Mitsunobu and his followers who started to serve Tokugawa Ieyasu 徳川家康 (1542-1616). Mitsunobu twice went to Edo, where the Tokugawa government was established in 1603. The major Kanou artist of the early Edo period was Tan'yuu 探幽 (1602-74), Mitsunobu's nephew, a child prodigy who became the first official painter to the Tokugawa shogunate in 1617 at the age of 16. Tan'yuu with his brothers Naonobu 尚信 (1607-50) and Yasunobu 安信 (1614-85) worked to decorate two magnificent structures built at the time: Nijoujou 二条城 (1626) in Kyoto, and the Jourakuden 上洛殿 of Nagoyajou 名古屋城 (1634) in Aichi prefecture. Tan'yuu created a unique style, particularly in ink painting, which was characterized by the use of wide empty space, plain composition and refined brushwork and was to be influential for a long time. In the mid-17c Tan'yuu's brothers also became official painters for the Tokugawa family, and thus the core of the Kanou school moved to Edo. In Edo there were four major branches *oku-eshi 奥絵師 and twelve minor branches *omote-eshi 表絵師 of the Kanou school employed by the shogunate. In addition, many daimyou 大名 employed artists in the same mould who were in the most part able students and followers of the upper level Kanou artists. The various Kanou painters thus secured a virtual monopoly of the commissions among the Tokugawa military elite. Some artists trained in the Kanou ateliers, however, were not patronized and opened shops in towns *machiganou 町狩野 and formed the level of the Kanou organization. Some were allowed to use the Kanou family name, while others used their own family names. The Kanou school overwhelmed the world of Edo painting. All who had any ambition in painting came to a greater or lesser degree under the influence of the school. Kanou painting in the latter half of the Edo period was characterized by the eclectic manner originated by Tan'yuu with additional elements derived from *Rinpa 琳派 works and even touches of naturalism. Other features of the school include the practices of repeating the same subject matter and copying their masters' works in order to both polish their skills and maintain the school's tradition. Minutely codified formulations extending even to the manner of holding and moving the brush were passed down from master to pupil. The school eventually became so orthodox and dogmatic that progressive painters, while receiving some training from Kanou painters, often disassociated themselves from the school in the end. Among the painters who had dropped out from the Kanou organization, Kusumi Morikage 久隅守景 (act. mid-17c) and Hanabusa Itchou 英一蝶 (1652-1724) are especially well-known. Although the Kanou school lost official patronage after the beginning of the Meiji period, several artists with strong connections to the Kanou school rose to prominance. Kanou Hougai 狩野芳崖 (1828-88), Hashimoto Gahou 橋本雅邦 (1835-1908) and Kawanabe Gyousai 河鍋暁斎 (1831-89) all served for years as Kanou school painters before developing


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