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Sesshū Tōyō

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A 16th century copy of Sesshū's 1491 self-portrait
Bornc. 1420
Died26 August 1506 (aged 85–86)
Senior posting
TeacherTenshō Shūbun

Sesshū Tōyō (雪舟 等楊, c. 1420 – August 26, 1506), also called Sesshū (雪舟), was a Japanese Zen monk and painter. He is thought to be a master of Japanese ink painting. He was inspired by Chinese landscapes. His work has a Japanese style that shows Zen and Buddhism.[1] His famous work was of landscapes, portraits, birds, and flower paintings. These works all had Zen Buddhist beliefs, and a flattened perspective.[2]

Sesshū was born into the samurai Oda family (小田家) and trained at Shōkoku-ji temple in Kyoto as a Zen monk.[1] From his childhood, Sesshū showed talent for painting. He eventually became known throughout Japan as a wise Zen scholar. He was soon called the greatest painter priest of Zen-Shu.[3]

Sesshū trained under Tenshō Shūbun (c. 1418–1463). After Sesshū visited China, he was inspired to include it in his own work. His paintings began to have a unique Chinese and Japanese style..[3] Sesshū's influence on painting was so large that many schools of art made him their founder.[4] Sesshū's most famous works are Winter Landscape (c. 1470s), Birds and Flowers (1420–1506) and Four Landscape Scrolls of the Seasons (1420–1506).

Paintings and techniques

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Sesshū's works are mostly suibokuga, or "water and ink paintings".[1] Zen Buddhism focuses on simplicity and the natural world. To perform this, Suibokuga artists use only black ink.[1] Sesshū used black sumi, or charcoal or soot-based solid ink on paper or silk.[5] Sesshū's most famous works include Winter Landscape (c. 1470s), Four Landscape Scrolls of the Seasons (c. 1420 – 1506) and, Birds and Flowers (c. 1420 – 1506). These all show his use techniques to show zen beliefs.[2]

Winter Landscape (c. 1470s), Collection of the Tokyo National Museum.

Famous works

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Huike Offering His Arm to Bodhidharma (1496)


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  • Four Landscape Scrolls of the Seasons (c. 1420–1506)
  • Winter Landscapes from Landscapes of the Four Seasons (c. 1420–1506); Tokyo National Museum)
  • Autumn and Winter Landscapes (c. 1470s; Tokyo National Museum)
  • Short Scroll of Landscapes (c. 1474–1490; Kyoto National Museum)
  • Long Scroll of Landscapes (Sansui Chokan) (c. 1486; Mori Collection, Yamaguchi, Japan)
  • Haboku Sansui, "splashed-ink" technique scroll (1495; Tokyo National Museum)
  • View of Ama-no-Hashidate (c. 1502–1505; Kyoto National Museum)
  • Landscape by Sesshū
  • Portrait of Masuda Kanetaka (1479; Masuda Collection, Tokyo)
  • Huike Offering His Arm to Bodhidharma (Daruma and Hui K'o) (1496; Sainen-ji, Aichi, Japan)
  • Flowers and Birds, pair of sixfold screens (undated; Kosaka Collection, Tokyo)
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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Stokstad, Marilyn; Cothren, Michael (2017). Revel Art History. Vol. 2 (6 ed.). Pearson. ISBN 978-0134481012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Fowler, Michael D. (17 March 2017). "Spatial confluences between the ink paintings and garden designs of Sesshū Tōyō". Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes: 144–157.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Miyamoto, Kiyoshi. "sesshu toyo". Masuda City Tourist Information Center.
  4. Ford, Dorothy (2010). "The Greatest Perfection: Spatial Aberrations in Sesshu's Long Scroll". Undergraduate Library Research Awards.
  5. Mittman, Dr Asa Simon (3 August 2019). "Nature: spotlight — Sesshu Toyo's Winter Landscape". Smarthistory.