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16. Maruyama Ôkyo (1733-1795)
Maruyama
Sennu zu, Fishing cormorant
Signed: Ôkyo
Seals: Ôkyo noin, Chûsen
Technique: sumi and light blue on paper 125,2 x 46,8
Mounting: red brown gold damask and green gold damask
ivory rollers, 217 x 61,2
Box: Double box authorised in 1920 by Kunii Ôyô (1868-1923)
Condition: fine

In Japan nowadays Ôkyo is just as well known as Hokusai, Van Gogh, or Rembrandt.
In 1768 Maruyama Ôkyo was still ranked second on the Heian jimbutsu-shi, Record of Heian (= Kyoto) notable painters - behind the now little known Õnishi Suigetsu, teacher of Go Shun -, but after 1775 he was in the lead. Ôkyo received more commissions than any decorative painter since he days of Tan'yû. In 1784 Ôkyo started to add the name Minamoto to his signature, which suggests that the imperial court had awarded him an honorary membership, just as Tan'yû and Naonobu before him had been appointed members of the Fujiwara. Without any doubt Ôkyo was one of the most famous and important painters of the 18th century, founder of the Maruyama school and introducer of shaseiga, drawing from nature. The latter might not seem very special, but was in fact revolutionary, for it was without precedent.

"An artist who works only with old models and refuses to look with fresh eyes at the object itself is like a literary scholar who does nothing but copy from old books. It is necessary to re-examine the objects of nature and sketch them anew. Sketching is of the utmost importance and is more important than refinement of brush technique."
Under his guidance his students, who were many, developed a rather individual approach to their art, as technique more or less took second place. In comparison with other schools this was quite uncommon and it showed his importance as a teacher.
The Maruyama school together with the Shijô school, founded by Go Shun (1752-1811), determined the face of painting in the Kansai area throughout the 19th and the first half of the twentieth century.

Reference:
Next to a number of monographs in any general book on Japanese painting
Tokyo '97
Nihon no bijutsu kaiga kinshû Vol.22
Rosenfield B. 51
Roberts p. 126
Araki pp. 2614-2628

Kunii Ôyô was a fourth-generation head of the Maruyama school.


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