Reading Books on the Art of Painting by the Early Modern Tosa School – Seminar by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
For the monthly seminar by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held on June 26th, 2018, Senior Researcher Mayumi ONO delivered a presentation titled “Study of “Honcho Gaho Taiden” written by TOSA Mitsuoki – Getting “Gaguseihou Heisenhou Gokuhiden” as a Clue” with Ms. Miho SHIMOHARA (Kagoshima University) as commentator.
TOSA Mitsuoki (1634-1654) is a painter regarded as “a contributor to the revival of the Tosa family” since he reacquired the position of court painter (edokoro azukari) that had for many years been held by the Tosa family. Mitsuoki painted lots of new and elegant works by introducing Song and Yuan painting styles and sketches into the traditional Yamato-e painting.
Honcho Gaho Taiden (possessed by Tokyo University of the Arts) is one of the books on brushwork written by Mitsuoki representing the early modern period. For this seminar, the coloring method mentioned in this book was compared to those referred to in the books on the art of painting at the Kano school: Honcho Gaden by KANO Einou and Gasen by HAYASI Moriatsu, and sketches by KANO Tsunenobu which are owned by the Tokyo National Museum. For example, as for the color called urumi, Mitsuoki wrote that “after applying cochineal red, indigo blue is attained.” However, the books on brushwork for the Kano school indicate another method under which whitewash is mixed. Accordingly, when referring to Tsunenobu’s sketches, urumi is mentioned as notes of Yamabato-zu (picture of turtledoves) and Kuzu-zu (picture of arrowroots). It turns out that actual colors unique to turtledove legs and arrowroot flowers are consistent with the coloring method Mitsuoki wrote about. These comparisons have clarified that the contents of Honcho Gaho Taiden are more practical and concrete than those of the other brushwork books.
At the seminar, various comments were offered from the viewpoints of the Tosa, Sumiyoshi, and Kano schools, as well as research on Japanese-style painting. By further studying Mitsuoki’s book along with these researchers, the study of brushwork in the Edo period is expected to advance.