Japan art and Yamamoto Baiitsu: Influence of China

Japan art and Yamamoto Baiitsu: Influence of China

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Yamamoto Baiitsu (1783-1856) was born in Nagoya and died before the end of the Edo Period. His artistic influence and angles of high culture that appealed to Baiitsu emanated from China. Hence, he adapted his own individualistic art style from the internal and external artistic influences that meant the world to him. 

Despite the Edo Period being known for its isolation apart from minor openings: the artistic, cultural, philosophical, and religious clock of China continued to attract Japanese artists. Thus the Middle Kingdom (China) loomed large concerning vast areas of Japanese culture. 

The Kashima Arts website says, “Yamamoto Baiitsu was a late-Edo period painter from the Owari province (modern-day Aichi prefecture). He learned painting under Yamada Kyujyo, a bird-and-flower painting master, and Cho Gessho, a highly respected Nihonga painter.”

The MET Museum says, “Baiitsu is best known for his meticulous and unfailingly elegant polychrome bird-and-flower paintings, perhaps learned while studying as a youth under the Shijō-school painter Chō Gesshō (1770–1832).

Baiitsu adored many past Chinese artists from bygone times. For example, Baiitsu’s homage to Wang Mian (fourteenth century China) highlights his reverence and individual style – that incorporates Japanese concepts. 

Thus the Museum of Fine Arts Boston – concerning Wang Mian – says, “However, Baiitsu’s lush use of ink, which pools in areas along the gnarled trunk and creates sensuous plays of dark and light evident in the luminous blossoms of early spring, is distinctively Japanese.”

I commented in a past article, “The most potent mentor to Baiitsu that enabled his career to blossom was Kamiya Ten’yu (1710–1801). Ten’yu was a merchant and collector – and he patronized his art.”

Baiitsu also had a close friendship with the artist Nakabayashi Chikuto (1776-1853). They both parted from this world within a few years of each other. However, their artistic spirits continue to shine brightly.

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