ASIA212Varley

Many other pictures on the theme of views inside and

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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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