- Museum number
Painting, hanging scroll. Landscape with Mt Fuji, Seiken Temple and Miho no Matsubara. Ink on silk. Signed and sealed.
- Production date
Height: 189 centimetres (mount)
Height: 104.80 centimetres
Width: 48.50 centimetres (mount)
Width: 34.10 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Clark 2001
One of the most celebrated Fuji paintings, historically, has been a large horizontal hanging scroll in the collection of the Hosokawa lords, 'Mt Fuji and Seiken Temple' (Eisei Bunko, Tokyo, fig. 2, p. 11), with a signature purporting to be that of the great medieval ink-painter Sesshu Toyo (1420-1506). Although modern scholarship no longer accepts this as a genuine work by Sesshu, for ink-painters of the Edo period (1600-1868), in particular members of the academic Kano school, this was a great icon to be revered and copied. The most spectacular of the surviving later versions is probably a pair of six-fold screens by the Kyoto Kano painter Sansetsu (1590-1651) (Nagoya, 1998, no. 43). Among many exact-size hanging scroll copies is one by Kano Naganobu (Ibid., no. 42), also the painter of this vertical adaptation of the same subject.
Kano Isen'in Naganobu was seventh-generation head of the Kobiki-cho branch of the Edo Kano school that had been founded by Kano Naonobu (1607-50). As such he would have had privileged access to study antique Chinese and Japanese paintings in the collections of the Shogunate and feudal lords. The present work, executed entirely in tones of monochrome ink, adapts and simplifies the motifs of the Sesshu original for the vertical hanging scroll format, with the buildings of Seiken Temple nestling beneath a cliff face on the left, and just the very end of the land-spit of Miho no Matsubara jutting into the right foreground. The subtle handling of the ink washes to silhouette Fuji and to suggest light falling on the misty hills, accented with occasional sharp detailing in deep black for the trees, rocks, buildings and boats, is entirely typical of the Edo Kano style as first established by Naganobu's ancestor Yasunobu and Yasunobu's illustrious elder brother, Tan'yu (1602-74). The Edo Kano style pretended inheritance not only from the Japanese medieval ink painting as epitomized by Sesshu, but also made claims to even greater and more ancient antecedents in the ink-painting traditions of Song dynasty China.
Naganobu was granted the title 'hogen' ('Eye of the Law') in 1802, used in the signature here, and was subsequently further elevated to the highest 'hoin' ('Seal of the Law') rank in 1816. The British Museum collection also contains a painted album by Naganobu from this same 'hogen' period (1802-16), 'Twelve Famous Places in Japan' (JP ADD 180), which opens with a delicately abbreviated horizontal composition of 'Mt Fuji and Miho no Matsubara'.
Anderson, William. 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of a Collection of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum'. London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1886, no. 1342.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2001, 11 May-29 Jul, BM Japanese Galleries, '100 Views of Mount Fuji'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The collection of over 2,000 Japanese and Chinese paintings assembled by Prof. William Anderson during his residency in Japan, 1873-1880, was acquired by the Museum in 1881. The items were not listed in the register, but rather were published separately as the 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of a Collection of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum' (Longmans & Co, 1886).
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.931 (Japanese Painting Number)