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Nagasawa Rosetsu

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Edo Middle Maruyama Screen
Japanese, (1754–1799)
Maruyama painter. Born and raised in the family of a low-ranking samurai of the Yodo clan in Yamashiro. An intimate friend of Minagawa Kien. An eccentric and violent character. One of the best of Okyo's pupils and in many ways one of his most remarkable followers, but was expelled from Okyo's studio and eventually developed his own style. In 1787 toured Wakayama to paint fusuma in various temples there—work that shows his individual style, free from Okyo's influence. An extraordinarily versatile artist, at times close to the suiboku style; at others borrowed themes from Ukiyoe masters, painting famous bijin. Also fond of animal subjects. Often combined bold composition of Rimpa school with humor of Zenga. Frequently used a flat brush, or held the brush in a slanting position, using different tones of ink in the same broad stroke. Occasionally worked in a sort of Western technique called doro-e, a mushy, thick paint mixed with Chinese white.

This is possibly Rosetsu's first painting. Painted when Rosetsu was twenty-eight, it is a direct copy of one of his master's paintings, now designated a National Treasure. Here Rosetsu changed the coloring and placement of the flowers and added moss to the rocks. This painting makes a marvelous comparison piece to the "Bull and Elephant" screen. This one was produced under strict supervision of his master, Okyo, and the other screens were made after his talent was turned loose and his imagination released. It is most contradictory to Americans that an artist trained only through copying can eventually become so original. Rosetsu is possibly Japan's greatest artist. He died at such an early age. Imagine if Hokusai and Jakuchu had died at forty-four, would anyone even know their names today? Conversely, what extraordinary heights would Rosetsu have achieved had he lived into his eighties?

Artist Objects

Blackbird 327.68.NA.X

Cat 330.79.HM.X

Elephant Screen 374R.71.MN.X

Ghost 320.68.YD.X

Lady Tokiwa 324.70.MI.X

Mountain Lady 326.69.YD.X

Sea God 323a.69.OY.X

Sparrows 325.72.YR.X

Tiger 321.70.MR.X

Turtle 323b.69.OY.X

Yamauba Copy 328.67.MI.X

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