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Japanese Painting: The Rinpa (or Rimpa) School

White phoenix on a pine tree

White phoenix on a pine tree (approx. 1920-1940), by Kamisaka Sekka (1866–1942). Japan. Hanging scroll; ink and colors on silk. The Avery Brundage Collection, 1995.50

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The Rinpa (or Rimpa) school originated with the artist Tawaraya Sotatsu active (1600–1640) but is named for his successor, Ogata Korin (1658–1716)—the second syllable of the name Korin forms the first in Rinpa. These artists came from the merchant class in Kyoto. They became friendly with members of the impoverished nobility and revived courtly aesthetics and themes. Like the Tosa artists they took as their favorite subjects classical literature and poetry, as well as birds and flowers of the four seasons. They are known for brilliantly colored paintings and lavish use of gold. Rinpa artists worked on every format imaginable—screens, scrolls, and fans, lacquer objects and ceramics. Their compositions often accentuate the flatness of the painting surface and emphasize pattern and design.