Japanese art and the eclectic style of Hasegawa Settan

Japanese art and the eclectic style of Hasegawa Settan

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist Hasegawa Settan (1778-1843) produced a very eclectic mixture of art. His published books also provide amazing glimpses into the world that existed during his lifetime. Therefore, while his name isn’t famous internationally – or even in Japan unless you are a specialist in art – he still left a fascinating legacy. 

In the first art piece in this article, you have three delightful bats playing a game to see who can drink sake first. The vagueness of the background intrigues the viewer even more. However, the innocence of this lovely art piece – irrespective of the real meaning, works a treat.

Hasegawa was respected in the Buddhist circles he mixed in. Thus he was given the Buddhist honorary title of Hokkyō. This means the “Bridge of the Dharma.” 

He lived during a time when soon the Edo Period would end. Hence, 25 years after his death, the new world of the Meiji Period (1868-1912) would begin. However, the world of Hasegawa was very different because the impact of international artistic forces remained in the background – apart from the potency of Chinese art that never ceased during the Edo Period and a few artists who were inspired by Western art (notably Dutch art)

Originally, Hasegawa was a wood sculptor who did woodblock carvings in the process of creating ukiyo-e prints that were extremely popular during the Edo Period. His art – and the Buddhist spiritual angle – entails that you have monetary factors and spiritual factors behind the works he produced. 

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