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  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Scholar in forest
    Fan painting - Scholar in forest by Zhou Yong (active in Daoguang and Fengxian eras from 1821-1862)

    Distant shoreline seen at far right on a lower plane than that of the shore at the left. Scholar with a walking staff in the Cold Forest. There is some basic information recorded for Zhou Yong, who was from the Hangzhou area. He was known for landscapes, figure paintings, and flowers and is recorded as a student of the more famous flower painter Zhang Xiong (1803-1886), whose work is also found in this collection. The very general dates given for Zhou's period of activity suggest that he was about the same age or even older than his teacher. If this is true, then the date of 1828 seems most likely, although the later date in the sixty-year cycle, 1888, is still possible. The inscription claims inspiration from the early Qing master Wang Hui, recognized at this time as one of the greatest of the orthodox masters. The organization of the landscape is similar to that in a number of long handscrolls, with the distant shoreline seen at far right on a lower plane than that of the shore at the left. Such spatial inconsistencies are intentional, and they are clues for the viewer to experience space in different ways at different points in the painting. As in many works of the orthodox school, the streams and mountains are built up by layering brush strokes one over the other to create a complex tapestry of texture on rocks and mountains. The feeling of the cold season is effected by the bare branches of the trees, and the empty lonely space that stretches out to the distant mountains.

  • Thumbnail for The courtesan Tamagoto of Tamaya Brothel
    The courtesan Tamagoto of Tamaya Brothel by Toyoshige Toyokuni II

    Toyoshige is considered a somewhat mediocre pupil of Toyokuni I but as the artist’s son-in-law he became the head of the Utagawa school after Toyokuni I died. This infuriated Kunisada, who later became the head of the Utagawa school and he had Toyoshige’s name removed from the family roster.Bijin-ga (images of beauties) might be of actual contemporary and historic women or of an idealized type of beauty specific to a time and region. Courtesans in particular were usually depicted in the latest and most elaborate fashions of the day. After an increasing number of censorship laws were passed to limit the production of prints of famous courtesans, thought to corrupt the morals of the citizens of Japan, many artists turned to domestic images of mothers and daughters or women with servants and generalized pictures of the latest fashions in order to satisfy the demand for bijin-ga and skirt the laws.