Watanabe Shiko, Japanese (1683 - 1755)

Japanese painter. He was apparently a masterless samurai (ronin) who entered the service of the aristocratic Konoe family in Kyoto in 1709. Some of his early paintings reflect his training in the academic style of the KANO SCHOOL, as seen in two sets of sliding doors ( fusuma), one set depicting pine trees, the other flowers and grasses, in Konbuin in Nara. He is best known as one of the leading exponents of the decorative Rinpa style practised by Ogata Korin (see OGATA, (1)).

Later works only show Kano influence in landscape. Although some of Shiko’s works clearly derive from earlier Korin compositions, he was never a slavish imitator. His Kakitsubata (‘Irises’; pair of six-panel folding screens; ink and colours over gold leaf on paper; Cleveland, OH, Mus. A.) is modelled after Korin’s treatment of the same theme (Tokyo, Nezu A. Mus.; for illustration see OGATA, (1)). Unlike Korin, who depicted the irises in their entirety, clustering many of them along the bottoms of the screens, Shiko dispersed them more loosely across the surface, with their tops emerging from a low-lying golden mist.


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