Bunchou Tani / Kantou-bunjinga / Schools of Nihonga 007

Kantou-bunjinga

Kantou- bunjinga is a school of artists of the literati painting that was active in Edo and led by Bunchou Tani (1763-1841). Well known artists of this school include Kyousho Tachihara and Kazan Watanabe. Bunchou’s works created during the Kansei period (1789-1801), especially, are called “Kansei Bunchou” and are held in high esteem.

Literati painting / Bunjinga and Nanga

Literati painting
The term bunjin means high-ranking officials or educated men and intellectuals who led a life away from the hustle and bustle of secular life; they were at the center of Chinese culture. The literati painting is the term used to refer to paintings that these men painted for their own enjoyment, and the word did not indicate a specific painting style at first. However, the literati painting gradually began to be painted intentionally. The ink painting was used as the main method of expression and common ideas in terms of theme and style exist in the literati painting. With its beginning in the Eastern Han dynasty, the literati painting reached its peak during the Northern Song dynasty and a defnite style of painting was established by the end of the Yuan dynasty. In the Ming dynasty, Dong Qichang (1555-1636) pointed out the superiority of the literati painting by categorizing it into beizonghua by professional artists and nanzoughua that express spiritual concepts. Paintings influenced by the literati painting of the Ming and Qing dynasties became popular during the Edo period.

Nanga
Nanga is a type of literati painting that was popular in Japan during the Edo period. The name has its origin in the nanzonghua of the Ming dynasty in China. The influence of nanzonghua is also strong in its style. Other styles of Chinese painting were also incorporated to give nanga its own unique style. Taiga Ike and Buson Yosa are famous nanga artists.

 


Bunchou Tani


 

Bunchou Tani's work

Bunchou Tani self-portrait

 

Bunchou Tani (1763-1841) was a Japanese literati (bunjin) painter and poet. His name was Shouan. At the first time, his “gou” (second names) were Bunchou and Siryou, and then he changed his gou to Bunchou which was also used as his “azana” (pseudonym). He was generally called Bungorou or Naoemon. He was also called Shasanrou or Gagakusai, Muni and Ichien. After he shaved his head and was appointed Hougen-i (the second highest rank in the hierarchy of Buddhist priests), he was named Bun-ami. He was born in Shitaya-Negishi, Edo.

His Life


His Origin
His grandfather, Honkyou Tani, was originally a lower-ranked government official, but he became known as a statesman because he excelled in business, and he achieved superior performance, handpicked by the Tayasu family.

Painting Life
When he was 12 years old, he learned from his father’s friend Bunrei Katou of the Kanou school, and when he was 18 years old, he studied under a disciple of Kouyou Nakayama, Gentai Watanabe. Since Bunrei died when Bunchou was 20 years old, he studied under Kangan Kitayama and pursued Hokusou (Northern Song Period China) painting. It is said that he also studied under Fuyou Suzuki, which is not clear. After that, he learned the style of the Kanou school from Mitsusada Kanou, and he studied the styles of the Tosa school, the Rinpa school, Oukyo Maruyama and Goshun of Yamato-e painting (a traditional Japanese style painting), in addition to Korean and Western paintings. He planned a trip to Nagasaki and visited Kenkadou Kimura in Osaka when he was 26 years old, and he received formal instructions from Unzen Kushiro. After the death of Kenkadou Kimura, he expressed regret over his death and presented his portrait to the bereaved family. After he arrived at Nagasaki, he learned painting methods from Shuukoku Chou and stayed for about one month. Based on copies and sketches of ancient paintings and sketching, he eclectically mixed painting of various schools and aimed at a mixed style of north and south. His area of painting was wide, covering Sansui-ga (painting of mountains and rivers), Kachou-ga (painting of flowers and birds), portraits, and Butsu-ga (painting of Buddha), and additionally, he established his own painting style called Hasshuu Kengaku (syncretic study of all eight schools of Buddhist learning) and then he became a great authority of Kantou Nanga (a school of painting originating in China).

Painting School Shasanrou
Bunchou Tani established his private school called “Shasanrou,” where many disciples including Kazan Watanabe and Kyousho Tachihara learned. He explained importance of sketching and copying of ancient paintings, and his lectures focused on copying of paintings of Nanpin Shin. However, he did not get into methodism or formalism like the Kanou school but had educational attitude in which he respected personality or independence of disciples. Although he was famous as a teacher who well cared about his disciples, there are some criticism that he was authoritarian.
His wife Kankan Tani (the Rin clan) and his sisters Shunei Tani and Kouran Tani were also famous as women painters. The Tani family prospered as his biological younger brother Gentan Shimada was also good at painting and his adopted child Bun-ichi Tani and biological child Bunji Tani were also good painters. However, since Bun-ichi and Bunji who were regarded as his successors died young, Shasanrou then ruined.

Later Life
Bunchou was considered as one of Sampuku-tsui (triplicity) of Shitaya with Bousai Kameda and Houitsu Sakai and enjoyed his life, but he vigorously painted to the last breath. Sadanobu died in 1829, and Bunchou, who was 67 years old then, appointed as Goeshi (a painter for Shogun) and shaved his head. He was appointed Hougan-i and named Bun-ami at the age of 75.
He died in 1841. He was 79 years old.

 

Bunchou Tani's artwork

Boating on Kumano Part1 by Bunchou Tani

 

Bunchu Tani's artwork

Boating on Kumano Part2 by Bunchou Tani

 

Bunchou Tani's artwork

8 Daoist Immortals by Bunchou Tani

 

Bunchou Tani's artwork

A Bluegreen Landscape by Bunchou Tani

 

 

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 The Japanese people have long set a high value on aesthetic senses since ancient times. As a result, the
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 The kakejiku (a hanging scroll; a work of calligraphy or a painting which is mounted and hung in an
alcove or on a wall) is a traditional Japanese art. It's no exaggeration to say that paintings are what
express aesthetic senses at all times and places. The kakejiku is an art which expresses the Japanese
aesthetic senses. The kakejiku has long been used in traditional Japanese events, daily life and so on since
ancient times. As a result, there are various customs of kakejiku in Japan; kakejiku and the life of the
Japanese are closely related. We can see Japanese values through kakejiku.
 The kakejiku is a cultural tradition which the Japanese people should be proud of. However, many people
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 The Japanese people have long set a high value on aesthetic senses since ancient times. As a result, the
peculiar culture which is not seen in other countries blossomed and many aspects of the modern Japanese
culture come from it. Parts of Japanese culture has been introduced to people in other countries recently,
so the number of people from other countries who are interested in Japanese culture has been increasing.
However, the Japanese aesthetic senses, which are the bases of Japanese culture, have been nurtured
through a long history, intertwining various elements intricately, such as climate, geographical features,
religion, customs and so on. Therefore, they are very difficult to understand not only for people from other
countries, but even for the Japanese people. I think the best tool which conveys these difficult senses
understandably is a “kakejiku.”
 The kakejiku (a hanging scroll; a work of calligraphy or a painting which is mounted and hung in an
alcove or on a wall) is a traditional Japanese art. It's no exaggeration to say that paintings are what
express aesthetic senses at all times and places. The kakejiku is an art which expresses the Japanese
aesthetic senses. The kakejiku has long been used in traditional Japanese events, daily life and so on since
ancient times. As a result, there are various customs of kakejiku in Japan; kakejiku and the life of the
Japanese are closely related. We can see Japanese values through kakejiku.
 The kakejiku is a cultural tradition which the Japanese people should be proud of. However, many people
in other countries don't know much about it because it hasn't been showcased as much. This is why I
decided to try to introduce it. The kakejiku world is very interesting and beautiful. We want not only the
Japanese, but also many people from other countries to know and enjoy it. I hope that many people will
love kakejiku someday.

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