Japanese Kano school painting, 17th century

Japanese Kano school painting, 17th century - image 1

Japanese Kano school painting, 17th century



Japanese Kano school painting, 17th century, in ink against a gold leaf background, depicting Wang Xiang swimming in a frozen river with two carp, in a desolate wintry landscape with a bare tree and small bridge.


Dimensions of frame: 40cm. x 46.4cm. (15 3/4in. x 18 1/4in.)

The themes and styles of Chinese art have had a signifiant influence on Japanese painting for hundreds of years, with genres including bird and flower studies, Buddhist religious paintings, inkwash landscapes, and, as seen here, depictions of traditional Confucian tales proving especially popular in medieval and early modern Japan. Despite thematic and stylistic similarities to Chinese models, Japanese paintings display a distinctly Japanese aesthetic. Mirroring this wider narrative of influence and innovation, the Kano school of painters, founded by Kano Masanobu in the 15th century, initially adhered closely to Chinese models, contributing to a revival of Chinese influence within Japanese medieval culture. However, over time the school developed a bolder, more distinctive style with firm outlines and brighter colours, as seen in this example. The Chinese text Quan xiang ershisi xiao shi xuan 全相二十孝詩選 (Selected verses on all aspects of the twenty-four filial exemplars) was compiled in the fourteenth century by the Yuan dynasty Confucian scholar Guo Jujing. The compilation of tales outlining the central Confucian concept of loyalty towards ones parents proved extremely influential across Asia and was translated into Japanese as Nijushiko 二十四孝 in the fifteenth or sixteenth century as well as becoming a popular theme in Japanese art. The tale depicted in this painting is wo bing qiu li, 卧冰求鲤 (He Lay on Ice in Search of Carp), which tells the story of a man called Wang Xiang, whose mother died when he was very young. His father remarried, and his new stepmother intensely disliked him, often complaining about him to his father, who eventually turned against his son. Despite this misfortune and ill treatment, Wang remained loyal to his parents, and one freezing winter when his stepmother suddenly craved some carp, he went to the frozen river and lay on the ice, which eventually thawed enough for him to catch a pair of the fish for her.

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item details
Material and Technique Coloured inks and gold leaf
Origin Japanese
Period 18th Century
Dimensions Dimensions of frame: 40cm. x 46.4cm. (15 3/4in. x 18 1/4in.)

Product REF: Q707B