Hawk and Waves
Kano Sansetsu (1589–1651) 狩野山雪
Edo period, circa 1640.
Framed painting. Ink on paper.
H. 120 cm x W. 53 cm (47” x 21”)
Kano Sansetsu is a Japanese painter who represented the Kyo Kano (Kyoto Kano) school from the end of Momoyama to the early Edo period. At first, he was a student of Kano Sanraku, but later became his son-in-law and inherited the family lineage. The era when Sanraku and Sansetsu lived was a turbulent period when the administration of Japan changed from the Toyotomi the the Tokugawa. Not only the Daimyo but also the Kano school painters had their fates greatly influenced by the whirlpool of the times. Sanraku and Sansetsu were fortunate to survive the upheaval. At that time the majority of the Kano school, along with Kano Tanyu, moved to Tokyo and began working for the Edo Shogunate. In contrast to this Edo Kano, which developed a light and stylish mode of painting, the artists remaining in Kyoto continued to develop a rich and powerful painting style.
Kano Sansetsu’s paintings have many unique aspects. He persistently pursuits form and design, and his compositions often strongly contrast light and dark. His decorative flair is born of a vigorous geometry that emphasizes the vertical and horizontal, and his novel compositions reinterpret traditional themes based on a deep knowledge of old paintings. His works, which are full of unique stimuli, pioneered the subsequent appearances of Ito Jakucho and Soga Shohaku, and continue to influence many artists today. In 2019 Sansetsu was one of eight artists whose works were exhibited in the ‘Lineage of Eccentrics: The Miraculous World of Edo Painting’ at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. His set of sliding doors held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, ‘Old Plum’, are amongst the most recognizable Japanese works of art held outside of Japan. In 2010 LACMA purchased a two-panel folding screen of a tiger drinking from a river by Kano Sansetsu. Apparently it was the only signed screen by the artist to ever leave Japan. Large scale works by him are also held at various temples in Kyoto, including Kiyomizu-dera, Myoshin-ji, Tofuku-ji, Sennyu-ji and Higashi Honganji.
The painting is mounted on a panel, the frame of roiro mirror-polished, black lacquer. Conservation, mounting and framing was carried out in Kyoto utilizing traditional techniques and craftsmen.