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13 facts about Sesshū Tōyō

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By Gwylym Owen

Sesshū Tōyō (雪舟 等楊) (known as Oda Tōyō beginning in 1431, also known as Tōyō, Unkoku, or Bikeisai; 1420 – 26 August 1506) was the most prominent Japanese master of ink and wash painting from the middle Muromachi period. He was born into the samurai Oda family (小田家), before bodily brought taking place and educated to become a Rinzai Zen Buddhist priest. However, early in enthusiasm he displayed a capacity for visual arts, and eventually became one of the greatest Japanese artists of his time, widely revered throughout Japan.

Sesshū studied below Tenshō Shūbun and was influenced by Chinese Song dynasty landscape painting. In 1468–69, he undertook a voyage to Ming China, where he was endorsed as an outstanding painter. Upon returning to Japan, Sesshū built himself a studio and time-honored a large following, painters that are now referred to as the Unkoku-rin school—or “School of Sesshū”. Although many paintings survive that bear Sesshū’s signature or seal, only a few can be securely ascribed to him. His best-known decree is the so-called “Long Landscape Scroll” (山水長巻, Sansui chōkan).

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