Sweetfish in a stream with pinks on the shore

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    This image of a school of ayu (sweetfish) swimming in the shallow water shows Ōzui’s reliance on Maruyama school sketches from life, or shasei [the pinks of this painting are very similar to an album leaf by Kinoshita Ōju that has been separated from its album in the Yamato Bunkakan entitled Album of a Gathering held at Daiichirō, Higashiyama published in Kobayashi Tadashi and Kōno Motoaki, Ōkyo, Rosetsu, Jakuchū: Maruyama-Shijō ha (Ōkyo, Rosetsu, Jakuchū: Maruyama-Shijō school), Edo meisaku gachō zenshū (Masterpieces of painted albums from the Edo period), vol. 7 (Tokyo, Osaka: Shinshindō, 1996), 151. This points to a shared model being used among Ōkyo’s followers]. 'Five ayu swim under waves painted with a light wash of blue pigment. The pinks in the foreground, by contrast, are done with bright white and pink pigment, and a few flowers are articulated with a very sharp dark outline.

    The Ashmolean’s painting is very similar in style to Ōzui’s pair of six-fold screens of Birds and Flowers of the Four Seasons in Daishōji temple, in which a school of ayu is seen swimming in a stream beyond the flowers. The addition of small fish to the composition, not a traditional element, shows Ōzui’s creativity in incorporating his father’s sketches into finished works. In addition, both works share the same controlled brushwork and carefully detailed depictions of flowers [published in Minamoto Toyomune and Sasaki Jōhei, eds, Kyoto gadan no jūkyūseiki, vol. 2 Bunka Bunseiki (Kyoto: Shibunkaku shuppan, 1994) 22-23].

    Maruyama Ōzui was the eldest son of Ōkyo and became head of the school after his father died in 1795. He is known primarily for faithfully continuing the style of his father, and for keeping the school's circle of artists and compositional models assembled. Around the same time as his father's death, other prominent artists of the Maruyama school passed away, such as Komai Genki (1747-1797) and Nagasawa Rosetsu (1754-1799) (who had been expelled from the studio some years before). In this turbulent period in the school’s existence, Maruyama school artists would meet once a month at Ōzui’s house to show their paintings and discuss them [Kimura Shigekazu, Maruyama-ha nidaime: Ōzui, in ibid., 147].

    In: Katz, Janice, Japanese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, with an introductory essay by Oliver Impey (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2003)

Further reading

Katz, Janice, Japanese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, with an introductory essay by Oliver Impey (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2003), no. 19 on pp. 86-87, p. 83, illus. pp. 86-87

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