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Kanō Hōgai: life and works

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By Gwylym Owen

Kanō Hōgai (狩野芳崖, February 27, 1828 – November 5, 1888) was a Meiji era (19th-century) Japanese player of the Kanō school. As one of the last Kanō artists, he helped buccaneer the nihonga art style later than Hashimoto Gahō and art critic Ernest Fenollosa. Hōgai’s perform reflected the traditional style of the scholarly whilst yet showing experimentation and disturb with Western methods. Hōgai is perhaps best known for his paintings of dragons, birds, and Buddhist gods such as Kannon (also known as Guanyin).

The son of the local daimyō’s chief painter, he was sent at the age of 18 to Edo to scrutiny painting formally. He stayed there for ten years and studied under Kanō Shōsen’in and further prominent artists of the time. Hōgai would eventually be called on for such esteemed commissions as ceiling paintings for Edo Castle. He also traditional the tribute of having some of his works displayed at the 1876 Paris International Exposition.

However, despite these honors, the economic turmoil created by the fall of the shogunate in 1868 provoked Hōgai to plan to retain himself subsequently income via more mundane methods. He worked at casting iron, reclaiming land, and admin a shop selling writing instruments. In 1877 Hōgai returned to Edo, now called Tokyo, and worked for the wealthy Shimazu clan; this gave him the opportunity to study works by some of Japan’s greatest painting masters, including Sesshū and Sesson.

In 1884, Hōgai attracted the attention of Ernest Fenollosa, an art critic and stasher from New England, who befriended him and bought several of his paintings. Along past Fenollosa, Okakura Kakuzō and Hashimoto Gahō, Hōgai subsequently took share in the Painting Appreciation Society (観画会, Kangakai). The Society was created to emphasize the expected Japanese arts, particularly classical art of the Heian and Nara periods which were introduction to be seriously neglected, with many works sold or even destroyed due to Japan’s newfound assimilation in the West.

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