Suzuki Shonen (1848-1918)
Meiji period (1868-1912). Early 20th century.
Six-fold screen. Ink and color on a gold leaf ground.
H. 173 cm x W. 380 cm (68’’ x 150’’)
Price: USD 22,000
Suzuki Shonen was one of the leading Japanese artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was continually active in major national and international exhibitions including the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the 1900 International Exposition in Paris. Shonen had many powerful patrons, and his works were often lavishly mounted. Shonen never worked from preliminary sketches, but painted quickly and directly, in a bold, individual style. Shonen’s great technical skill in handling ink tonalities and striking, forceful brushwork became the signal features of his style. One of his most common themes was the pine tree, the “Sho” in his name, Shonen, being the Japanese character for “pine.”
Shonen’s often dramatic paintings earned him the moniker ‘present day Shohaku’, after the eccentric artist Soga Shohaku (1730-1781). Shonen’s primary teacher was his father Suzuki Hyakunen, though Shonen soon developed his own distinctive approach. As with this dramatic six-fold screen, Shonen often adopted the strong black outlines and broad hake brush from the Kano style of painting. Shonen shunned the personal, or subjective qualities found in the brushwork of some painters in favor of bravura displays of brush technique. Overall his style conveys the decisiveness that was such a marked aspect of his personality.
Six-fold pine screens by the artist are held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.