91 drawings, using brush & color washes on sheets measuring 710 x 660 mm., all within two loose binder boards. [Japan]: from a pasted-on note from the lower board: “91 drawings…13 August 1860.”
A remarkable collection of 91 large and fine drawings of botanical subjects for paintings on coffered ceilings (gotenjo or goutenjo or goutenjou) of aristocratic homes, shrines, and temples, mainly in Kyoto, prepared by many of the disciples and students of Matsumura Keibun (1779-1843), the Japanese painter known as “Go Keibun.” A leading figure in the Shijo school established by his half-brother Goshun Matsumura, Keibun was most noted for his delicate and elegantly composed studies of birds and flowers.
The upper board has an inscription: “Shinden naka no ma. On tenjo shitae no utsushi” [“Shinden-style buildings middle chamber. Precious drawings for ceiling paintings. Copies”]. Shinden-zukuri was a style of aristocratic mansion built in the mid-10th century in Kyoto. By the 19th century, those mansions that survived, along with temples and shrines, needed renovations and redecorations. These drawings were prepared for such activities. They may be copies of Keibun’s work by his students or original designs in the style of their master.
Each drawing is signed with a pen name and a label identifying the plant or flower; all are in roughly the same style. We have been able to identify 11 of the artists: Seiki Yokoyama (1792-1864; see Hillier, p. 922; five drawings), Obun Matsumura (the son of Keibun; three drawings), Kiho Yagi (seven drawings), Keika Nakao (one drawing), Nikka Tanaka (four drawings), Gisho (or Yoshiaki) Mori (five drawings), Kado Isono (five drawings), Kokei Tomita (four drawings), Bunrin Shiokawa (seven drawings), Mohiko Okamoto (six drawings), and Goho Tanaka (five drawings). We have not been able to identify the artists of the remaining 39 signed drawings.
In fine condition, preserved in chitsu. A few folds with minor tears.
❧ Brown, Block Printing & Book Illustration in Japan, p. 91-”Keibun…was chiefly noted for his paintings of flowers and birds.” Hillier, The Art of the Japanese Book, pp. 713-14.
Item ID: 8847