Sunday, November 27, 2011


Landscapes of Autumn and Winter
two hanging scrolls
#2 scroll
c. 1470–90
Ink wash painting on paper *
47.7 x 30.2 cm
Tokyo National Museum
National Treasure
*Ink wash painting is an East Asian type of brush painting.
Only black ink (the same as used in East Asian calligraphy) is used, in various concentrations.

Sesshū Tōyō (1420 – 1506) was the most prominent Japanese master of ink and wash painting from the middle Muromachi period. He was born into the samurai family, then brought up and educated to become a Zen Buddhist priest. However, early in life he displayed a talent for visual arts, and eventually became one of the greatest Japanese artists of his time, widely revered throughout Japan and China. In 1468–9 he undertook a voyage to Ming China, where too he was quickly recognized as an outstanding painter. Upon returning to Japan, Sesshū built himself a studio and established a large following, painters that are now referred to as the "School of Sesshū". Although many paintings survive that bear Sesshū's signature or seal, only a few can be securely attributed to him.