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Japanese Painting: Kano School

Mt. Fuji and the beach at Miho

Mt. Fuji and the beach at Miho. 1666. By Kano Tan'yu (1602-1674). Six panel folding screen. Ink, colors and gold on paper. The Avery Brundage Collection, B63D7.B.


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The Kano school, established by Kano Masanobu (1434–1530), primarily served the samurai class. Their bold designs of powerful animals and symbolic plants and trees, blending aspects of native Japanese with Chinese styles, were the perfect decoration for screens and sliding doors in the large official audience halls in samurai residences. Their academy followed the shogunate from Kyoto to Edo. They were perhaps Japan’s most influential school of painting, since most artists who underwent traditional training began their studies with a Kano master. They are associated with kanga or “Chinese painting” style, although Kano Eitoku and Kano Tanyu were both innovators who skillfully blended the expressive brushwork of kanga with the brilliant colors and gold prevalent in native Japanese painting style.