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Tōsaka Bun'yō, Hawk and a Bear, a pair of hanging scroll paintings

 

Height: 904.000 mm (each scroll)
Width: 290.000 mm

Arthur Morrison Collection
Gift of Sir W. Gwynne-Evans, Bt.

Asia JA JP 1887-8 (1913.5-1.0424-5)

    Tōsaka Bun'yō, Hawk and a Bear, a pair of hanging scroll paintings

    Japan
    Late Edo period, early 19th century AD

    The bear is a relatively unusual subject for Japanese painting. This one seems to be a higuma (Ursus arctos yesoensis) from the Ezo region (modern Hokkaidō), the island in the far north of Japan. The hawk perched on a rock is reminiscent of works by the artist Sō Shiseki (1712-86), who painted in the Chinese-influenced Nagasaki style, but the composition gains added movement and tension from the waterfall in the background.

    Bun'yō (1783-1852) served the same Tayasu family as did the celebrated artist Tani Bunchō (1763-1840). Bun'yō became one of Bunchō's most talented pupils, and took the first character of his teacher's name. Although Bunchō allowed his pupils an unusual amount of freedom to develop their own artistic style, Bun'yō remained comparatively loyal in his approach.

    Around the time of this painting, Ezo was being explored and colonized by the bakufu regime of mainland Japan, and artists, including Bunchō's younger brother Genta (1778-1840), were being sent to record the landscape and wildlife. Bun'yō may well have used one of Genta's sketches or a published work on the region for reference when executing his painting.

    The signature on each scroll reads ‘Bun'yō', and the seals read ‘Bun'yō gain' ('Painting-seal of Bun'yō') and 'Jūyū gabō' ('Painting Studio of Ten Friends').

    I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan-2, vol. 3 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1993)

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