Sesshu Toyo

from ‘Long Landscape Scroll’ by Sesshu Toyo

Sesshū Tōyō (雪舟 等楊?) was the finest ink painter of the Muromachi period in Japan, working mostly in the fifteenth century. He was famous throughout Japan and China as well, having been influenced by Song Dynasty art and later travelling to Ming China, where his talent was well received.

Whilst he was influenced by Chinese techniques like those of Xia Gui, Sesshū Tōyō also departed in several ways from the Chinese style, creating his own Unkoku-rin school of painting.

‘Streams and Mountains with a Clear Distant View’ by Song Dynasty Chinese master Xia Gui

Sesshū Tōyō added thicker lines, more pronounced dark-light contrasts and flatter senses of space to the Song Chinese style. Just before his death, he painted his View of Ama-no-Hashidate, which looks markedly different to the Chinese style, with a strong sense of realism and a panoramic eye, the use of dark shadows in the trees and mountains emphasised by the blankness of rolling white mists around the landscape.

‘View of Ama-no-Hashidate’ by Sesshu Toyo; haiku my own