"National Treasure Gallery: Chinese Landscape"
Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 2 January 17, 2017 (Tue) - February 12, 2017 (Sun)
Chinese Landscape (detail), By Ikeno Taiga, Edo period, 18th century (National Treasure, Gift of Mr. Dan Ino)
Before the Meiji era (1868–1912), the Japanese regarded China as the most advanced country with a profound culture. Poets and painters of the Edo period (1603–1868) could only imagine this mysterious land based on paintings and illustrations in imported printed books or classical books of Chinese poetry.
The landscapes on these screens are the fruits of the remarkable power of imagination. The right screen portrays the Yueyang Pavilion overlooking Dongting Lake, which is associated with the Tang-dynasty poets Meng Haoran and Li Bai, and the sight of its water flowing into the Changjiang River. The left screen depicts the Zuiweng Pavilion, which the Northern-Song-dynasty poet Ouyang Xiu built on Mount Langya. It is thought that the painter referred to the text in Record of the Yueyang Pavilion and An Account of the Zuiweng Pavilion, and that the scenes were based on two works in Shao Zhenxian’s small album of paintings, which compiles works featuring scenic spots in China.
Attention should be paid to the painter’s techniques of expanding the originally small-scale works to this scale, and his bold attempt to use the medium of ink, gold leaf, and vivid color. Viewers can imagine the movements of the painter’s brush from the rolling waves, and marvel at the sparkling gold undercoat, which radiates from behind the varied shades of ink. These features, along with the vivacious expressions of the figures depicted here and there, create the impression that this painting is “alive.”
Born in Kyoto and active in the 18th century, after a long period in which Song- and Yuan-dynasty painting was emulated in Japan, Ike no Taiga perfected Japanese literati painting based on the new styles of painting from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Completed in his early forties, during which the “Taiga style” was completed, this masterpiece is indeed the greatest work by Taiga.
Chinese Landscape, By Ikeno Taiga, Edo period, 18th century (National Treasure, Gift of Mr. Dan Ino)