Hayashi Chisen (~1792) | Peonies | Japanese scroll painting



Hayashi Chisen (~1792)


Hanging scroll, ink, color and gofun on silk

Inscription: “Hayashi Gen Sha

Upper seal: Hayashi Gen

Lower seal: Chisen


Scroll:  187 cm x 56 cm (74’’ x 22’’)

Image:  112 cm x 42 cm (42’’ x 16.5’’)


Meticulously detailed peonies, painted with luminous gofun tinted with rich colors dominate the tense composition. The dramatic rock formation, defined through the graded application of loose brushstrokes, appears at a perilous angle, which is exacerbated by the slope of the ground. The strong foreground presence of the composition and the limited number of motifs are the trademarks of Chisen’s teacher, Kumashiro Yuhi. Yuhi learnt directly from Shen Nanpin (Shen Quan) and became the disseminator of his style.

Though listed on the Nanpin school’s branch as one of 15 followers of Yuhi, Chisen was a relatively minor artist. His given name was Matsubayashi Gen. He was born in Nagasaki where he studied under Yuhi. He moved to Osaka and Kyoto where he continued painting. He found greater popularity as an artist after he relocated to Edo (present day Tokyo).

The Nanpin school evolved in Nagasaki under the guidance of the visiting Chinese artist Shen Nanpin (1682-1760), whose paintings were based largely on the realistic manner of the late Ming dynasty. Shen Nanpin’s influence in Japan was profound, extending widely. He arrived in Nagasaki after many years of peace. The Japanese people, in particular the rising merchant class, had gradually become apathetic toward the traditional Sesshu and Kano schools of painting. The novelty and freshness of Nanpin’s style and its decorative appeal contributed greatly to its popularity, which also resulted in part from the growing taste for realism in Japan during the 18c. This interest in realism stemmed from the port of Nagasaki and the influence of Dutch books and lithographs.