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Japanese painting: The Maruyama-Shijō school

These connected schools of painting flourished mainly in Kyoto in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Their leading figures were Maruyama ōkyo (1733-95) and one of his major associates, Go Shun (1752-1811), who set up his own studio on Shijō Avenue in Kyoto.

ōkyo was interested in Western spatial techniques and often sketched from life. As a young man he designed perspective views for viewing devices. His mature style combined Western perspective, Chinese ink and wash techniques and a Japanese sense of abstract design. His wide-ranging themes included landscape, figure and animal subjects. He trained in the Kyoto Kanō school and revived large-scale Kanō-style sliding-door and screen painting. ōkyo was also a dedicated teacher, and his many followers included Gen Ki (1747-97), Mori Tetsuzan (1775-1841), Mori Ippō (1798-1871) and the eccentric individualist Nagasawa Rosetsu (1754-99).

Go Shun (Matsumura Gekkei) was originally a bunjin painter studying with Yosa Buson (1716-1784). After Buson's death he became increasingly influenced by ōkyo but developed a freer, more idiosyncratic and lighthearted idiom which combined ōkyo's close observation with Bunjinga lyricism. Formats were generally the small-scale hanging-scroll, fan, album-leaf and handscroll. Shijō artists also designed colour woodblock-printed surimono, books and albums. Go Shun's principal followers were his younger half-brother Matsumura Keibun (1779-1843), Okamoto Toyohiko (1773-1845), and Nishiyama Hōen (1804-67).

The two schools influenced other traditional nineteenth-century painting schools in Kyoto, such as the Kishi (Gan) school led by Gan Ku (1749-1838), the Gen school led by Hara Zaichū (1750-1837), the Mori school (including the painter of monkeys, Mori Sosen), and the Rimpa school. Later, Nihonga also incorporated elements taken from the Maruyama and Shijō schools.

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