Historical Position of “Hakubai-zu byobu” by Goshun – A workshop is organized by the Dept. of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties organized a workshop on May 30, 2017, when Takuyo YASUNAGA (a researcher of the Dept.) gave a presentation on research titled the Historical Position of “Hakubai-zu byobu” by Goshun (housed by the Itsuo Art Museum).
After working as a disciple of Buson YOSA, Goshun (1752-1811) inherited Okyo MARUYAMA’s painting style. Goshun is known as a painter who established a painting school called the Shijyo school. One of his representative paintings, “Hakubai-zu byobu (the folding screen of white plum blossoms)” (an important cultural property) is a fantastical piece of work in which a small earth mound and three white plum trees that spread their branches are drawn on a pair of six-panel folding screens to which a coarse-grained fabric made from pale blue-dyed yarns is applied. These screens are estimated to have been produced between 1787 and early years of the Kansei era (1789-1801) based on a technique called tsuketate he employed in drawing the branches of plum and a style of calligraphy for his signature. They are one of the examples that were created when Goshun changed his painting style from a Buson style to the Okyo counterpart.
As the initial step, YASUNAGA analyzed the expressions and materials of the painting meticulously, thereby shedding light on issues of incorporating an Okyo style in a painting on the subject of plum. He then went on to point out that a Nanpin style based on the learning of Buson’s paintings and an influence of Chinese paintings were identified in its unusual background expression on the fabric made from pale blue-dyed yarns. Furthermore, with respect to the use of a quite special base material that appears to be a cloth made from kudzu, YASUNAGA extrapolated the base material of the work through a comparison with some examples that use such cloth by other artists than Goshun. He also indicated that the use of such cloth was possibly associated with interaction between Goshun and men of letters in Ikeda. After his presentation, he was bombarded by questions about the use of this special base material and lively discussions were conducted on the possibility of its identification.