Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jakuchu Ito

Mandarin Duck in The Snow
Japanese hanging scroll painting on silk fabric
141.8 x 79.0cm
Collection of Imperial Household Agency

Ito, Jakuchu (1716 - 1800) was a Japanese painter of the mid-Edo period when Japan had closed its doors to the outside world.
He developed an amazingly realistic style and added to it decorative touches. His works display a great degree of experimentation with perspective, and with other very modern stylistic elements.

He was the eldest son of a Kyoto grocer whose shop lay in the center of downtown Kyoto. Jakuchu ran the shop from the time of his father's death in 1739 until 1755, when he turned it over to one of his brothers. He is said to have been very calm, restrained, and professional. He held strong ties to Zen Buddhist ideals, and was considered a lay brother.

His painting was mostly derived from inspirations from nature and from examining paintings at Zen temples. Though a number of his paintings depict exotic or fantastic creatures, such as tigers and phoenixes, it is evident from the detail and lifelike appearance of his paintings of chickens and other animals that he based his work on actual observation.

Well-known and well-reputed in the Kyoto art community, Jakuchu received many commissions for role-screen paintings, and was at one time featured above a number of other notable artists. Despite his commercial successes, however, Jakuchu can definitely be said to have lived the life of a literati. He was friends with many notable literati, went on journeys with them, and was influenced by their artistic styles. His own degree of experimentation was a result of a combination of this literati influence and his own personal creative drive.