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Unformatted text preview: Azuchi, he simply sketched in the
outlines of pictures—often using a brush that was like a large straw broom
—and left the detailing to his assistants.
Momoyama screen painting developed into a fully decorative style of
art in which overall design and the placement of objects were of paramount importance. The boldness with which the Momoyama masters
executed their works is readily observable in Kanò Eitoku’s composition
of a twisting, gnarled cypress tree set against a background of rocks, azure
water, and gold-leaf clouds. Later decorative artists of the seventeenth
and early eighteenth centuries were to scale down Eitoku’s handling of
objects and soften his use of color. But they lived in an age when peace
and stability were taken for granted in Japan, whereas Eitoku and his contemporaries displayed in their art the tremendous, if often impetuous,
energy of the epic Momoyama years of unification (fig. 44). Fig. 44 Kanò Sansetsu’s “Aged Plum,” a representative work of the decorative
screen painting of the Momoyama epoch (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The
Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art) 156 The Country Unified Another major artist of the Momoyama epoch was Hasegawa Tòhaku
(1539–1610). Like all Momoyama painters, Tòhaku worked in a variety
of styles, including the colorful decorative manner that was so closely
associated with his rivals, Eitoku and the Kanò school. He had a special
fondness, however, for the monochrome art of the Muromachi masters
and in fact declared himself to be the true successor to the tradition of
Sesshû. In several of his major works, including the picture of pine trees
on a pair of six-panel screens, Tòhaku demonstrated how a new and
imaginative approach to the use of monochrome on large areas could
produce extremely satisfying results (fig. 45). His clusters of pine trees,
presented without supporting motifs in either the foreground or background, do not seem at all inadequate for the decoration of these multipaneled screens. Rather, they strikingly enhance, in the best Zen-like
tradition, the emptiness of the remainder of the screens’ surface.
Apart from the decorativ...
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- Spring '13