Early 19th Century Japanese Ink Painting Pair. Plum & Bamboo by Kano Isenin.



Kano Isen’in Naganobu (1775-1828)

Plum & Bamboo

A pair of framed Japanese paintings. Ink on silk.

Dimensions H. 117 cm x W. 59 cm (46” x 23”)

Price: USD 12,000

A pair of Japanese sumi ink paintings by the Kano Isen’in Naganobu, a master of the early modern Kano school. Rich in atmosphere and mood Isen’in has depicted a blossoming plum paired with bamboo swaying in the wind. The elegant and expressive depictions of the plum and bamboo have been created with monochromatic ink on a silk canvas. With an emphasis on simplicity and minimalism the artist has sought to capture the essence of the subjects with restrained brushstrokes and atmospheric washes of ink. Negative space has been utilized to emphasize the elegant lines and curves of the branches, stalks and leaves – adding depth and movement to  the artwork. 

In art, the plum blossom represents resilience, hope, and the coming of spring after the harsh winter, making it a symbol of endurance and new beginnings. The movement of bamboo in the wind symbolizes the dynamic and ever-changing nature of life. Bamboo’s ability to bend and sway without breaking is often seen as a metaphor for resilience, adaptability, and strength in the face of adversity. 

Kano Isen’in Naganobu (1775-1828). Painter, son and pupil of Kano Yosen’in Korenobu, whom he succeeded as 8th generation head of the Kobikicho branch of the Edo Kano school that had been founded by Kano Naonobu (1607-50). Naganobu was granted the title ‘hogen’ (‘Eye of the Law’) in 1802, and was subsequently further elevated to the highest ‘hoin’ (‘Seal of the Law’) rank in 1816. This pair of plum and bamboo paintings date to this final period, after Isen’in received the ‘hoin’ rank.

Isen’in was a master of the early modern Kano school and served as an official painter for the Shogunate. He was active in large scale production for the Shogunate including the painted sliding wall panels in Edo castle. His folding screens were also given as gifts to Korean envoys. He revamped the style of the Edo Kano school through the study of classical masterpieces with a focus on Chinese paintings. His position as head of the Kobikicho Kano branch allowed him privileged access to study antique paintings in the collections of the Shogunate and feudal lords.