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Ito Jakuen

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Jakuen
Edo
Japanese, (active late 18th c.–early 19th c.)
(fl. late 18th to early 19th c.)
Painter. May have been a son of Ito Jakuchu, whose work his paintings resemble.
Alternate names: Ito Masatoki. -- Roberts, L. Dictionary of Japanese Artists (1980)

Jakuchu enjoyed the production of paintings in his atelier of one; but as he grew more famous during the last years of his life, he embraced a group of students who would eventually ease the pressure of his work by assisting him. Jakuchu's younger brother, Hakusai, was one of these students. We know that other students included Jakuen, Ichu, and Shochu only through the use of their seals; however, their background and biographies remain unknown.
Jakuen was the most skilled of these students. It is likely that he was Jakuchu's amanuensis. On his own works, Jakuen impressed a square intaglio seal reading "Jakuen" and a round seal reading "To-ga-ji-ju-(?)." Among these works, the painting Rooster at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music (Geidai) has long been recognized. Quite some time ago, there was among the Jakuchu ink paintings collected by Mr. Price a work which he did not understand and whose authenticity he doubted. After it was arranged for him to see the Geidai Rooster, Mr. Price became very happy for he now understood his problematic painting. With this revelation as a momentum, he began collecting Jakuen paintings as reference materials for the Shin'enkan collection.
Jakuen's style of painting is rather monotonous and small in scale when compared with that of the master Jakuchu. However, it is difficult to disregard the considerable feeling of unconstrained brushwork. Grapevine is a refreshing work with compact construction. Banana Plant is impressive with its extraordinary composition that brings to mind textile patterns. Rooster Perched on a Plum Branch in the Snow is perspicuously decorative with its contrasts of color. Plum Tree in Bloom is somewhat mediocre. As pointed out by Mr. Price, the adhesion of objects to nature which can be found in Jakuchu's works is absent in Jakuen's paintings. Using Jakuchu's style, Jakuen concentrates on the idea of making the picture plane a design. Jakuen's paintings merely testify to the fact that the life and soul of Jakuchu's peculiar individualistic style can only be found in the works of the master.
----Tsuji


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