Important Cultural Property
By Kanō Masanobu
2 hanging scrolls
Ink and light color on paper, hanging scroll
Muromachi period/15th century
Kyushu National Museum
This is a landscape painting depicting a man of virtue or a hermit admiring the snow-covered winter scenery. The right part seems to show “Kanko Dokucho,” a scene of a person casting his line from a boat in the cold, while the left part seems to represent “Koshi Tanbai,” a man of virtue walking by water in search of plum blossoms in the cold. Since such themes derive from Chinese literature, it seems that people in the Muromachi period projected their longing for China into the virtuous hermit in the painting.
The intagliated seal (Hakubun Kanae-in), “Masanobu,” shows that the painting was drawn by Kano Masanobu (1436 – 1490). Masanobu is a painter who established the foundation for the Kano school, which led Japanese art circles until the late Edo period as a mainstream art school. Although he was a Buddhist in the Nichiren sect, his art work includes not only religious paintings, but also landscape paintings and portraits. Succeeding Oguri Sotan (1413 – 1481), Masanobu served Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436 – 1490) as an official painter of the Shogunate and engaged actively in the creation of paintings related to the Muromachi Shogunate.
The style of this painting follows that of Baen, an imperial painter (huayuan painter) of the Nan Song period, who received high recognition in Japan during the Muromachi period. Among the Chinese painting collections of the Ashikaga Shogunate, the art works of Baen were particularly valued and served as a classic model for the ink and wash paintings of the Muromachi period. The motif representation and the composition of this painting also suggest that the painter must have learned the style from Baen’s art works in the Higashiyama Gyomotsu (the art collection of the Muromachi Shogunate).