Monday, November 12, 2007

Kano Eitoku's Lions

Kano Eitoku 狩野えいとく

Considered the most prominent painter of the Momoyama 桃山period, Kano Eitoku (1543-1590) was talented as he was prolific. He and the studio that he lead were commissioned to paint numerous fusuma ふすま (painting on sliding doors) for shogunal palaces (such as the Azuchi Castle, built by the great shogun Oda Nobunaga 織田信長), and imperial palaces. Although many of these works, like the once glorious Azuchi Castle, have been destroyed in the turbulent years during the end of the 16th century, a few of Eitoku’s finest works remain as testaments to the diverse oeuvre created by Eitoku.

One of such is the “Mythological Chinese Lions” (late 1580’s, six-panel folding screen, colors and gold leaf on paper) currently housed at the Imperial Household Collection. According to one tradition, the screen was supposedly presented by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to the warlord Mori Terumoto as a conciliatory offering at the time of the siege of Takamatsu Castle in 1582. Careful evaluation of Eitoku’s stylistic development seems to cast doubt on this possibility, for scholars are inclined to date the screen several years later, 1587 or 1588.

The bold and monumental style of these two beasts is exemplary of Eitoku’s brush later in his career. The size of the screen, 222.8 x 452 cm, empowers the appearance of the lions to be enormous and imposing. The dearth of depth in Eitoku’s depiction, placing the lions to the very foreground of the composition, brings the lions next to the physical space of the room. The lions’s confrontation with the viewers demands attention, while manifesting themselves as mythical beings with their unusual appearance.


Q said...

I really like the picture. :)

なずきあん said...

狩野えいとくの 絵は 金がありますから、きれいですね。わたしも 狩野の ふすまが ほしいです:)