Past Exhibitions

The Paintings of Watanabe Shikō
December 18, 2018 - January 27, 2019

Watanabe Shikō (1683–1755) was a Kyoto artist who first trained in the Chinese-influenced painting style of the Kano school, based in Edo (Tokyo). He then gained exposure to the more decorative, Japanese-influenced Rinpa style by painting hand-decorated ceramics in the workshop of Ogata Kenzan (1663–1743), younger brother of the eponymous Rinpa artist Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716).

Eventually, Shikō went on to serve as an artist for the aristocratic Konoe family, one of the five regent clans in the ancient capital. Under its erudite head—the calligrapher, painter, poet, and statesman Konoe Iehiro (1667–1736)—Shikō expanded his purview to encompass the traditional Japanese yamato-e style of painting. Iehiro’s interest in natural history—even painting his own compendiums of botanical illustrations—influenced Shikō, as seen in his emphasis on sketching from life. Shikō’s attitudes towards art, in turn, greatly impacted some of the most famous Kyoto painters of the second half of the eighteenth century, including Maruyama Ōkyo (1733–1795).

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