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Nanga 南画・文人画

An example in the Nanga style (left):

Yosa BUSON (1716–1783)
Spring Landscape
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Nanga is a term broadly used to indicate an eighteenth-century Japanese painting style inspired by the ideals of the Chinese literati. This foreign influence entered Japan during the Edo period (1615-1868), despite the country’s self-imposed isolation of the time.

In philosophy, Nanga artists followed the path of the Chinese literati, scholars who dedicated their lives to the pursuit of knowledge and the arts of poetry, music, and painting. Their artistic productions were intended to express noble thoughts rather than copy external reality and were meant for personal pleasure.

This Chinese-inspired style gradually developed its own distinctive Japanese characteristics, seen in the work of artists such as Gion Nankai (1676-1751), Sakaki Hyakusen (1697-1752) and Yanagisawa Kien (1704-1758).

The favorite painting subjects were landscapes and the four plants that symbolize the virtues of the literati: bamboo, orchid, chrysanthemum, and plum. Landscape was a device through which these men of letters could portray their inner journeys. They often added calligraphy to their works for its poetic significance and as a display of erudition.

The Nanga tradition developed in various places in Japan such as the cities of Edo (later Tokyo) and Nagoya, the Kansai area, and the island of Kyushu. Ike Taiga (1723-1776), Yosa Buson (1716-1783), and Uragami Gyokudo (1745-1820) are among the most noted masters of this school. Accomplished second-and third-generation artists include Ki Baitei (1734-1810), Matsumura Goshun (1752-1811), Okada Beisanjin (1744-1820), Yokoi Kinkoku (1761-1832), Takahashi Sohei (1802-1833), Tani Buncho (1763-1840), Okada Hanko (1782-1846), Nakabayashi Chikuto (1776-1853), Yamamoto Baiitsu (1783-1856), and Nukina Kaioku (1783-1863).