Tsubaki Chinzan, Flowers and Plants in the Style of Chen Shun, a handscroll painting

Edo period, around AD 1850

The artist Tsubaki Chinzan (1801-54) was a pupil of the bunjin master Watanabe Kazan (1793-1841). Following his teacher, Chinzan painted portraits, flowering plants and flower-and-bird pictures. While his paintings have a realism based on sketches from life, he also aimed to capture the poetic spirit of the subject.

According to an inscription written by Chinzan himself at the end of the scroll, his painting is based on a work by the Chinese artist Chen Shun (1484-1544). Chen Shun, in his turn, was a forebear in the literati tradition of the painter Yun Shoupong (1633-99), whom Kazan and Chinzan both considered to be the absolute master of flower painting. The eight flowers depicted here are peony, orchid, hollyhock, jasmine, lotus, day lily, chrysanthemum and camellia. Chen Shun copied a poem by the Chinese poet Chen Chao beside every flower, and Chinzan has attempted to convey the spirit of these poems, too, in his painting.

Chinzan uses a 'boneless' (Chinese: mogu) style of painting of light ink and pale colour washes to produce an unpretentious, poetic effect. The signature reads 'Chinzan Tsubaki Hitsu', and the seals read 'Hitsu in' and Chinzan'.

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More information


I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hiz┼Ź Nihon bijutsu taikan-1, vol. 2 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1992)

L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


Height: 346.000 mm
Length: 4335.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA JP ADD576 (1978.5-22.01)


Brooke Sewell Fund


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