Attributed to Sesshû Tôyô
Summer Landscape (right)
Winter Landscape (left)
Muromachi period (1333–1573)
Late 15th century–early 16th century
Hanging scroll, ink on paper
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection Fund, 1970/2.150 & 151
Sesshû's reputation as an artist of extraordinary abilities has remained undiminished in Japan for five centuries. Born in a small town on Japan’s Inland Sea, he moved to Kyoto
to become a Zen monk. There he became a painter after encountering Shu ̄bun, then the preeminent master of ink landscapes in Japan. Sesshu ̄’s style changed dramatically after a three-year sojourn in Ming China in the 1460s, where he studied with court painters, prominent literati (amateur scholar-artist) painters, and Zen monks. He also made detailed sketches of famous earlier paintings of the Song (969–1279) and Yuan (1271–1368) dynasties. Upon his return to Japan, he developed his own style, freely incorporating elements from both the paintings and the grand scenery he had seen in China.
These two paintings are part of a triptych (a set of three paintings) handed down in the collection of the Kuroda family, lords of a major domain in western Japan, near the area where Sesshû spent the last part of his life. Scholars disagree about whether the artist’s signature and seal are authentic, and thus whether the painting is truly by Sesshû. But even if it is not by Sesshû himself, it is by an artist or assistant closely associated with him, and thus is representative of his late style, characterized by bold, exuberant brushwork.