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Unformatted text preview: period on, there had developed in China a distinction between professional artists on the one hand and, on the other, amateur artists who
were also members of the ruling literati class and regarded painting as a
natural and proper function of the cultivated man. In its origins, then,
the bunjin distinction was a social one; but, from the fourteenth century
on, a definite bunjin style emerged, distinguished chiefly by the use of
soft colors and a thin and delicate brush stroke, and it was this style that
was finally introduced to Japan in the eighteenth century. Interestingly,
this was the first major school of Chinese painting to be emulated by
the Japanese since painters of the early Muromachi period, some four
centuries earlier, had succumbed to the beauty of Sung monochrome
Unlike their Chinese counterparts, most of the leading Japanese bunjin
artists painted to earn a living. They seem originally to have been inspired to adopt this particular style because of the influence of Chinese
bunjin artists who came to Nagasaki in the seventeenth century. The fact
that the fashion for bunjin art thus emerged from Nagasaki, which had
been the center of Portuguese namban culture and in Tokugawa times included Dutch as well as Chinese in its foreign community, no doubt helps
explain the Western influences that can be seen in much bunjin work.
The leading Japanese bunjin artists of the eighteenth century were Ike
no Taiga (1723–76) and Yosa Buson (1716–83). Taiga, who was born
into a peasant family in the outskirts of Kyoto, was an extremely precocious child and, at the age of fourteen, began painting fans in order to
support his widowed mother. Although he subsequently became known
as the founder of the bunjin school in Japan, Taiga’s mature painting style
is actually quite eclectic and reveals the influences not only of the Muromachi monochrome masters and the Sòtatsu-Kòrin (Rimpa) school but
also of Western art (especially in the techniques of perspective and depth
perception). Like all bunjin artists, Taiga did most of his paintings of Chinese-style landscapes and people. His pictures also often have a delightfully eccentric and witty quality that suggests th...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.
- Spring '13