Tani Buncho


Tani Bunchoo 谷文晁 Tani Buncho

Tani Bunchō 谷 文晁
October 15, 1763 - January 6, 1841)

a Japanese literati (bunjin) painter and poet.
He was the son of the poet Tani Rokkoku (1729–1809). As his family were retainers of the Tayasu Family of descendents of the eighth Tokugawa shogun, Bunchō inherited samurai status and received a stipend to meet the responsibilities this entailed. In his youth he began studying the painting techniques of the Kanō school under Katō Bunrei (1706–82).

After Bunrei's death, Bunchō worked with masters of other schools, such as the literati painter Kitayama Kangen (1767–1801), and developed a wide stylistic range that included many Chinese, Japanese and European idioms. He rose to particular prominence as the retainer of Matsudaira Sadanobu (1759–1829), genetic son of the Tayasu who was adopted into the Matsudaira family before becoming chief senior councilor (rōju shuza; 老中首座) of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1787.

Daoist immortals

Bunchō is best known for his idealized landscapes in the literati style (Nanga or Bunjinga). Unlike most bunjinga painters of his time, however, Bunchō was an extremely eclectic artist, painting idealized Chinese landscapes, actual Japanese sites, and poetically-inspired traditional scenery. He also painted portraits of his contemporaries, as well as imagined images of such Chinese literati heroes as Su Shi and Tao Yuanming. Since travel outside Japan was forbidden under the Tokugawa shogunate, Bunchō was unable to study in China; he spent many years traveling around Japan, studying Chinese, Japanese, and Western art (洋画, Yōga). Watanabe Kazan, Sakai Hōitsu and Takaku Aigai were among his disciples.
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- Reference -

. The Scenery of Matsushima 松島 .
Painting by Tani Buncho


Paintings by Buncho from the 谷文晁『近世名家肖像』江戸期
Tani, Bunchou "Kinsei Meika Syouzou" Edo Period.
Tokyo National Museum

- - - - - paintings of
大典顕常(Daiten, Kenjou 1719〜1801年)詩人。
福島関山(Fukushima, Kanzan 〜1800年)画家。
濱田杏堂(Hamada, Kyoudou 1766〜1815年)画家。
慈周(Jisyû, Jushuu 1734〜1801年)詩人。
菅茶山(Kan, Chazan 1748〜1827年)詩人。
木村蒹葭堂(Kimura, Kenkadou 1736〜1802年)画家、煎茶家。
黒田綾山(Kuroda, Ryouzan 1755〜1814年)画家。
皆川淇園(Minagawa, Kien 1735〜1807年)詩人、画家。
西村南渓(Nishimura, Nankei 〜1800年) 画家。
大田南畝(Ôta, Oota, Nanpo 1749〜1823年)詩人。
頼杏坪(Rai, Kyouhei 1756〜1834年)詩人。
頼春水(Rai, Syunsui 1746〜1816年)詩人。
谷文晁(Tani, Bunchou 1763〜1841年)画家。


It is said his painting of Daruma became the model for the
Daruma dolls of Shirakawa.

. Shirakawa Daruma - 白河だるま - 白川だるま .

He painted Daruma Daishi 達磨図 

(from the Shirakawa Daruma Catalogue 2013)


The different brush strokes of Tani Buncho
by Rhiannon Paget

The latest exhibition at the Suntory Museum of Art commemorates the 250th anniversary of the birth of Tani Buncho — a painter, connoisseur and art historian of formidable energy and with an insatiable drive for knowledge. Of samurai lineage, Buncho underwent foundational art training in Kano School painting under the tutelage of Kato Bunrei (1706-82), but subsequently expanded into literati painting, the Nagasaki School, yamatoe (Japanese nativist painting), Buddhist art and Western pictorial techniques.

The exhibition opens with a selection of paintings that establishes the curiosity and versatility of this remarkable painter. The finely wrought “Blue and Green Landscape” demonstrates Buncho’s research of Chinese academic painting, while “Li Bai Watching a Waterfall,” energetically brushed in liberal quantities of heavy ink, is a persuasive exercise in Ming Dynasty literati painting.

Buncho was also keenly interested in ranga or “Dutch painting.” The original for Buncho’s “Copy of Willem Van Royen’s Birds and Flowers Painting” was one of five Dutch oil paintings requested by the shogun Yoshimune from the Dutch East India Company in 1722, which he bequeathed to Rakanji Temple in Edo (Tokyo) a few years later. It is thought that Buncho based his version on another copy made by fellow painter Ishikawa Tairo in 1796.

Another Dutch connection is Buncho’s painting of two camels. Brought to Japan in 1821 by Dutch traders, the animals drew crowds on their tour through provincial and urban centers. Among the various surviving paintings and printed images of these exotic visitors, Buncho’s are distinguished by his sensitive yet humorous treatment of the novel subjects. From their heavy grace and sardonic hauteur, we can imagine that the artist spent time carefully observing the camels in situ.

In the late 1780s, Buncho began traveling extensively through the main island of Japan, along his way creating more-or-less accurate images of the regional landscape, employing Western-style single-point perspective. Impressed by his skill, the powerful daimyo Matsudaira Sadanobu (1758-1829) appointed Buncho as an attendant and charged the artist with painting topographical images in aid of coastal defence and other projects. Many of Buncho’s sketches and finished paintings from before and after the forging of his relationship with Sadanobu are on display.

Buncho also contributed to Sadanobu’s 85-volume catalogue of antiquities, copying old works of art in the collections of temples and private homes throughout the country. Such places were off-limits to those without the right connections, and the experience nourished him as a painter, connoisseur and art historian.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is “Illustrated Legends of Ishiyama Temple,” a set of seven handscrolls compiled between the early 14th and 19th centuries by several different artists, the last of which was Buncho. The scrolls, which relate 33 incarnations of the Bodhisattva Kannon, are regarded as foremost accomplishments of yamatoe, and Buncho regarded his work on them as a high point of his career.

According the curators of this exhibition, in 1803, Buncho and his students completed a reproduction of the scrolls as part of Sadanobu’s great art survey. The results were evidently satisfactory, as in 1805, Sadanobu, in consultation with the temple’s Abbot Sonken, commissioned Buncho to provide illustrations for the final two scrolls, which had long consisted only of text. His encyclopedic knowledge of yamatoe allowed him to do this with breathtaking competence.


In the final section of this exhibition, teaching materials, collaborative works and other objects give intimations of the creative exchange and gregarious atmosphere of Buncho’s extensive circle, which encompassed such cultural luminaries as Sakai Hoitsu (1761-1828), Kameda Bosai (1752-1826) and Kimura Kenkado (1736-1802).

Although hundreds of students passed through Buncho’s tutelage, his stylistic and technical plasticity, together with a laissez-faire teaching style, seem to have precluded the formation of a cohesive “Buncho School.” His nonetheless complex legacy, however, might have been better explored through stronger representation of his pupils, which included three generations of his own family and noted painters Watanabe Kazan (1793-1841) and Tachihara Kyosho (1786-1840).

Moreover, Buncho’s liberal interpretation of literati painting provided a precedent for artists working well into the 20th century, such as Araki Kanpo (1831-1915) and Komuro Suiun (1874-1945).

Buncho’s eclecticism and academicism may have discouraged exhibitions of his work in Japan and abroad. Relative to the more systemized lineages of the Kano or Maruyama schools, the activities of independent, scholarly artists such as Buncho remain less understood and appreciated. This exhibition is thus compelling survey of the formidable mind of Tani Buncho and a fascinating glimpse of his world.

source : Japan Times, July 2013


. Regional Folk Toys from Japan .

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1 comment:

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Ōta Nampo - Ōta Nanpo 大田 南畝 Ota Nanpo
Shokusanjin - 蜀山人

writer and poet