Description Sakaki Hyakusen was an early practitioner of the literati style in Japan. He was born in Nagoya and resided outside of Kyoto for much of his life, but sold his art in the Kyoto market. He fashioned himself a true literatus, pursuing literature and painting in equal measures. He taught painting to Yosa Buson, who would inherit his poetic name and would make the most of it in the Kyoto poetry circles. Hyakusen has long been seen as a translator of Chinese ink painting techniques into the Japanese idiom. While this narrative has explained much of his work, there has long been a gulf of understanding related to his conception of Chinese painting. Many of his paintings seem to fail to fully engage the Chinese techniques of layered space and textured use of the ink. His students would achieve this without challenge, but Hyakusen's surviving works left much apparently undone. This lack, described by James Cahill in his definitive study of Hyakusen from the 1980s, is nicely addressed by this landscape painting from the last years of the artist's life. The rich textured ink applied using the style of Mi Youren in the high mountains and the clearly layered space that reaches into the distance in front of the figure precisely meet the demand that Cahill identified. This painting redefines Hyakusen's oeuvre and shows him to be in complete mastery of the Chinese techniques he exercised in his earlier paintings and those that can seem elusive in his body of work. This is the only work known that so richly applies these techniques and as such stands as one of this pivotal artist's finest expressions.
Provenance Matsumoto Kikuo, Kyoto, Japan, before 2008; acquired by James Freeman, 2008; purchased by Walters Art Museum, 2013.
Credit Museum purchase by exchange, 2013
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