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Amano Hoko : Summer Landscape (1876)

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Paintings: Pre 1900: Item # 1077627

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Amano Hoko : Summer Landscape (1876)
A nanga style painting, ‘Summer Landscape,’ dated 1876, by Amano Tachibana; studio name: Amano Hoko (1828-1894). Ink and light pigment on silk with signature, inscription and four seals. Inscribed box (hakogaki). Mounted with dark blue, unpatterned silk and gold-colored ichimonji with bird, bamboo and floral pattern. Chinese hard-wood (karaki) roller ends of purple sandalwood [shitan; zitan (Chinese)]. A tiny rectangular-shaped auspicious seal in the upper right corner, possibly containing the character “myo/miao” meaning ‘rare’ or ‘unique’ and five vertical lines of delicate calligraphy translated as: ‘The sound of the pines is echoing in the heavens and reverberating everywhere, is full within my ears as if I am listening to the SHO [reed organ] and Flute. The ninth year of the Meiji era [1876], Risshu [approximately August] at the top of Takada [a monastery or temple] viewing scenery.’ Signed ‘Okina [old man] Hoko at 88’ [the numeral eight, followed by the notation NOMATEN, indicating the previous character is repeated, and together representing the number eighty-eight], followed by the word ‘tenkichi’ meaning “heavenly happiness.” Below the inscription, a double, conjoined (square and circle) seal, effecting a pun on the painter’s birth name (Amano Tachiban), deleting the third syllable of AM-A-NO and rendering it as as ‘ama’ [heaven] ‘tachibana,’ (meaning orange, the fruit having Shinto associations), together meaning “heavenly fruit” and, again, the phrase “Okina Hoko ” or ‘Old Man Hoko.’ The inscription is initially puzzling as Amano Hoko in 1876--when he executed this painting-- would have been only approximately forty-eight years old; however, a square-shaped seal at bottom right corner of the painting reads “Seal of great happiness and longevity.” The artist has in this painting imagined himself reaching the famously auspicious age of eighty-eight. The hakogaki or box inscription, traditionally regarded as a type of authentication, reads ‘Amano Hoko. Summer Landscape. Murasakino [area in Kyoto famous for gardens and Daitoku-ji temple]’ and is signed ‘Soin’ [a Buddhist monk’s name], followed by a KAO [symbol designating official signature of], and the seal of ‘Soin’ (slightly obscured by the signature). The painting is a vivid contrast of wet and dry brush work. The lower portion of the painting depicts a rounded inlet of water outlined by elegant rocks below a precipice edged with dramatic, arching pine trees, another symbol of longevity. In the middle ground right is a temple complex, and in the far distance, a tree-topped mountain. In the upper portion of the painting, clouds are depicted with soft and fluid brushwork. Consistent with nanga and Chinese tradition, two dimuntive figures can be found in the painting: one figure, possibly representing Amano Hoko himself as referenced in the inscription, dwarfed by the trees and majestic landscape, sits on the edge of a precipice contemplating the scenery. An attendant stands at a respectful distance behind him holding what appear to be painting scrolls. The style is reminiscent of Oda Kaisen. Condition: very good to excellent: a few creases and some very minor spotting visible on close inspection. The mounting appears to be original and is very well preserved as is the inscribed and sealed box. Dimensions: Scroll length and width: 79-1/4” x 19-1/4”; painting dimensions: 55” x 14”; scroll ends (width): 24”. Biographical Notes. Amano Tachibana; studio name: Amano Hoko (1828-1894). Born in the city of Matsuyama in the former Iyo Province (now Ehime Prefecture), Amano Hoko first trained under Morita Shomin, and later under three prominent Kyoto literati painters, Nakabayashi Chikudo, Nukina Kaioku and Hine Taizan. In Edo he studied under Tsubaki Chinzan of the Buncho school, and also visited Shanghai to study under the famous Chinese painter Hu Gongshou*[Hu Yuan]. Amano Hoko was an active member of the Naikoku Kaiga Kyoshinkai, an association producing paintings for the imperial palace. Unfortunately, he did not achieve the auspicious age of 88, but died in 1894 at sixty-six years of age. Amano Hoko is regarded as one of the most prominent Bunjinga painters of the late Edo to Meiji period. NOTES. See the British Museum Collection, Registration No. 1999,1201,0.1 for a collaborative handscroll by five Kyoto-based artists including Amano Hoko, painted at the request of Fukaya Kingaku (see Tani Buncho, View of Mt. Fuji in this catalog (Trocadero Item 1074323) with an authentication by Fukaya Kingaku. *See, p. 24, Literati Modern, Bunjinga from late Edo to Twentieth-Century Japan: the Terry Welch Collection at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2009 by Paul Berry and Michiyo Morioka. Copyright (c) 2011 by Robert McCaffrey for RuyiStudio San Francisco. All Rights Reserved.


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