Trinity College Dublin and Osaka University Joint International Symposium

Japanese Studies in a global context: The art of friendship

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Sansetsu Kano: The painter of the Chogonka Scrolls

Shunroku Okudaira, Osaka University

A lot of research has been carried out on Chogonka Scrolls housed in Chester Beatty Library. So, instead of trying to add something new to that body of knowledge, I shall share my recent research findings about Sansetsu Kano (1590-1651), the painter of the Chogonka Scrolls.

Sansetsu was apprenticed to Sanraku Kano, one of the most prominent painters in the Momoyama Period (1573-1615), and married his daughter to succeed his father-in-law. It was recently discovered, however, that Sanraku had a son, Iori, who was also a painter. Therefore it was an exceptional decision in this historical period that Sanraku chose Sansetsu, instead of Iori, as his successor. This suggests that Sanraku valued Sansetsu’s singular talent as a painter as shown in the wall paintings of Tenkyuin, Keishun’in, and Chion’inryoshoin Temples. However, Sansetsu also excelled in researching in themes and designs. He would often go to the original literature, rather than relying on previous paintings, and created new designs as shown in Samurai Engaged in Sumo, Siblings, West Lake and Ten Snowscapes as well as Chogonka Scrolls. This was a survival strategy for the small family business in Kyoto in competition with a large group of painters who worked for the Tokugawa shogunate in Edo.

Short Biography

Shunroku Okudaira is professor of Japanese art history at Graduate School of Letters, Osaka University. He has authored a great many books, including Rakuchu rakugai zu Funaki bon (Scenes in and around Kyoto: Funaki bon version) (Shogakukan, 2001), Momoyama Jidai no bijutsu (Art in the Momoyama Period) (Tokyo Bijutsu, 2009), and Byobu o hiraku toki (When opening a screen) (Osaka University Press, 2014). He has also been involved in organizing numerous exhibitions both in and outside of Japan. The ones abroad that he helped from the planning stage include “Turning Point: Oribe and the Arts of Sixteenth-Century Japan” (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003-2004), “Ink and Gold: Art of the Kano” (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2015), “Sotatsu: Making Waves” (Freer Gallery of Art, 2015-2016). He was a recipient of the second Kokka Sho Prize in 1990.