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National Treasure Gallery: Autumn and Winter Landscapes

"National Treasure Gallery: Autumn and Winter Landscapes"

Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 2  December 15, 2015 (Tue) - December 23, 2015 (Wed)

Autumn and Winter Landscapes, By Sesshu Toyo, Muromachi period, late 15th – early 16th century (National Treasure)

The artist of this work, Sesshu, was both a painter and a Zen priest affiliated with temples. At a young age he trained at Shokokuji Temple in Kyoto and later moved to Yamaguchi, where he received the patronage of the Ouchi clan, the military governors of that region. Just before the Onin war (1467-77) he accompanied a diplomatic mission to Ming dynasty China. Returning after three years abroad, he continued his activities from Yamaguchi.
This work comprises a fall landscape to the right and a winter landscape to the left. In both scrolls, one can trace the motifs from the bottom to the top as they become increasingly distant. In the winter landscape, for example, there is a boat at the bottom right, with a path that extends upwards and to the left. A traveler walks on this path beneath the sheer cliff, seemingly making his way to the distant pavilion.
These are small paintings but they convey also a vast sense of space, and have a distinct firmness and logical composition unseen in Japanese landscape painting before Sesshu. The lines of ink depicting each motif are also full of character, with short, powerful strokes for the rocks and soft ones for the snowy mountains. Some lines also appear dry and others wet, each having a unique quality to be appreciated.
Sesshu was a rare kind of painter, creating ink landscapes with a steady, almost architectural quality during Japan's Muromachi period (1392–1573). He mastered compositional and brush techniques originating in the work of Xia Gui, a court painter of the Southern Song dynasty, and used them to depict numerous landscapes. These two scrolls are some of the finest examples of his work.

On Exhibit:
Autumn and Winter Landscapes, By Sesshu Toyo, Muromachi period, late 15th – early 16th century (National Treasure)

Major Work(s) on Exhibit 1 results
Designation Name Amount Creation Excavation Period Acquisition Ownership Comment
_MD_RECOMMEND National Treasure Autumn and Winter Landscapes By Sesshu Toyo Muromachi period, late 15th–early 16th century A-1398
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