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Unformatted text preview: nd Buson had qualities that were unique and great,
many other bunjin artists were mere Sinophiles, who turned to this style
of painting as part of a greater craving for things Chinese. It is interesting to note that, even at a time when some Japanese were inaugurating a
movement of National Learning with strongly xenophobic and nationalistic overtones, others—scholars as well as painters—were giving all their
love to China. This is a paradox characteristic of the ambivalence with
which the sensitive and highly adaptable Japanese have often confronted
the dominant outside world, represented by China in premodern times
and the West in the modern era.
A second new school of painting to evolve in the eighteenth century
was the realistic or naturalistic school, whose most outstanding practitioner was Maruyama Òkyo (1733–95). In this school, the influence of
Western art was very strong and in fact the followers of Òkyo were the
forerunners of one of the mainstreams of painting in modern Japan.
Òkyo did many sketches and drawings from nature that are extremely
detailed and realistic, but his most interesting works are his larger paint- 226 Heterodox Trends ings in which he sought to blend traditional Far Eastern and Western
In contrast to the synthesizing efforts of Òkyo and others of the naturalistic school, the Dutch Studies painters openly attempted to imitate
Western models. The best-known, although perhaps also the most extreme, representative of these painters was Shiba Kòkan (1738–1818).
Kòkan did not actually study the Dutch language; but, in his diversity of
interests and his love of Western scientific and utilitarian methods, he
was very much the rangaku man. The paintings of Kòkan, who was the
first Japanese to produce a copper engraving, are technically excellent
and are definitive proof that long before the Meiji Restoration the Japanese had become thoroughly familiar with the mechanics of Western art.
Kòkan’s work is apt to impress one more for its technique than its inspiration, but there is no denying the great contribution he made to this
area of Western l...
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- Spring '13