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Artist/makerNakabayashi Chikutō (1776 - 1853)
Material and technique
ink and colour on paper
Dimensionsmount 55.5 x 40.5 cm (height x width)
painting 28.5 x 20.5 cm (height x width)
No. of items
Purchased with the assistance the Higher Studies Fund, the Victoria and Albert Museum Fund, and with donations from the friends of P. C. Swann, 1966.
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Chikutō's signature style of painting rocky cliffs as if they were made up of several cube-like protrusions is unmistakable. The overhanging cliff dominates the entire right side of the small composition, while on the left we are afforded a contrasting view into deep space of a calm river leading up to a distant mountain. This architectonic landscape, while meticulously constructed and somewhat repetitious in its forms, is anything but monotonous. Chikutō uses his characteristic formula to create a highly effective rhythmic composition. The colouring of the landscape is equally beautiful, made up of grey ink used in a variety of values, with black and brown accents.
Born in Nagoya, the son of a doctor, Chikutō came under the patronage of wealthy merchant KamiyaTenyū (1721-1801), a collector of Chinese paintings. Throughout his life. Chikutō maintained that copying the Chinese masters was the most effective way to learn the art of painting, and because the works of Tang and Song dynasty masters were not available, studying them through the veneration of later artists or through printed illustrations would have to suffice. He was particu¬larly influenced by the work of Yuan dynasty master Huang Gongwang (1269-1354)' via the late Ming artist Lan Ying (1585-c.1664). Lan Ying’s squarish rock structures form the basis of the Chikutō’s style in many of his most beloved landscapes. From Mi Fu (1051-1107). Chikutō takes the idea of ink dots, though Chikutō's repetitive use of lateral dots in his work is his own interpretation.
In addition to painting, Chikutō was a great theorist and authored the Chikutō garon, among other writings. He studied the categorisation of the Northern and Southern schools of painting, as well as placing Japanese artists into three groups based on their merit in his estimation.
In: Katz, Janice, Japanese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, with an introductory essay by Oliver Impey (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2003)
Katz, Janice, Japanese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, with an introductory essay by Oliver Impey (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2003), no. 4 on p. 48, p. 39, illus. p. 49