Maruyama Ōkyo and Qing Bird-and-Flower Paintings: Konoe Iehiro’s Taste of Imports
82 , 2015-11-01 , 関西大学大学院東アジア文化研究科
Research about Japanese paintings from after the mid-Edo period has recently been criticized as valuing Western culture over and above Chinese culture. At the root of the problem lies a dichotomy between Japan as being leader of Asia and the West in the two-dimensional world view of early modern Japan. Such criticism can be aimed at research about Maruyama Ōkyo, who was one of the most representative painters of Edo period Japan. In this paper I discuss Konoe Iehiro, who was a court noble with indirect ties to Ōkyo and who was also fond of the latest Chinese imports at that time. He imported the latest Chinese paintings from the Ryukyu islands, predating the arrival in Japan of Shen Quran. I elucidate the fact that Ōkyo was supported by Iehiro’s salons that recognized the importance of replications of paintings by Sun Yi and others. Just prior to Ōkyo’s birth, there was a revival of the Song and Yuan periods’ painting style. As a result, Shen Quan came to Japan, creating the foundation upon which the shasei-ga of Ōkyo could be accepted by the art world of that time. In other words, an interest in and understanding of paintings from a variety of regions already existing in Kyoto in the middle of the Edo period does not readily fit within today’s accepted framework of Japanese art history.