Tosa Mitsuoki and Japan art: Edo Period art

Tosa Mitsuoki and Japan art: Edo Period art

Lee Jay Walker 

Modern Tokyo Times

Tosa Mitsuoki (1617-1691) belongs to the early period of Edo art. He represents one of the most famous sons of the art school of Tosa.

Tobu Mitsunobu, Tosa Mitsunaga, and Tosa Mitsuoki are collectively called ‘The Three Brushes. Hence, Mitsuoki continued the vitality of the art school of Tosa that began with the founding father in the fifteenth century.

The Met Museum says (art above), “The attention to detail is typical of the work of Mitsuoki, one of the most important painters of the Tosa school, who regained the title “head of the court painting bureau,” lost during the Momoyama period (1573–1615), for the successive leaders of his studio. Mitsuoki was well known for his refined bird-and-flower paintings, in which he combined traditional elements of Japanese yamato-e painting with techniques gleaned from the popular Kano school patronized by the Tokugawa shoguns, as well as Chinese bird-and-flower compositions.”

The Quail and chrysanthemums below – similar to the white heron – are done sublimely. Nature, flowers, and the reflection of the white heron are done with amazing detail. However, with a touch of simplicity that highlights the delightful art of Mitsuoki.

The Kyoto National Museum says, “The Tosa school of painting, preferred by Japan’s aristocracy, specialized in yamato-e (“Japanese style painting”) depicting Japanese themes in delicate brushwork with brilliant colors and gold. Tosa school paintings contrasted with the often Chinese-themed monochrome ink paintings of the Kano school, who were patronized for centuries by the shogunate and warrior class.”

Mitsuoki restored fresh vigor to the art school of Tosa in the early Edo Period. Therefore, the continuing success of Tosa in the long period of Edo is down to the delightful brush strokes and thought patterns of Mitsuoki.

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