Height: 430.000 mm
Length: 16079.000 mm
William Anderson Collection
Asia JA JP 940 (1881.12-10.01226)
Kanō Seisen'in Osanobu, copy after the handscroll Landscapes of the Four Seasons by Sesshū
Edo period, AD 1810
Painted at the age of 14
This is a copy after the celebrated handscroll Landscapes of the Four Seasons, painted in 1486 by the famous and highly revered artist Sesshū Tōyō, and now classed as a National Treasure in Japan. The postscript to this copy tells us more precisely that it is in fact a copy of an earlier copy - by Kanō Eisen Hisanobu (1696-1731). Osanobu (1796-1846) executed this 16 metre long scroll when he was only 15 years old (14 by Western reckoning).
The scroll is filled with scenes of mountains, craggy rocks, trees, expanses of water, and figures looking almost lost in the vastness of the landscape. It features the thick, sharp brushwork of Sesshū, and cross-hatched shading. It is mostly done in black, with touches of colour for the foliage and human figures, as can be seen in the section illustrated here.
Osanobu attached great importance to the study of classical paintings, and produced a large number of copies. This practice was valued to help improve brush techniques, but could descend into slavish imitation. Osanobu, fortunately, was talented enough to avoid this.
The signature reads 'Gyokusen Osanobu jūgo-sai sha' ('Painted by Gyokusen Osanobu at age 15') and the seals read 'Osanobu bo' ('Copied by Osanobu') and 'Gyokusen'.
I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan-1, vol. 2 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1992)