Maruyama Ôkyo was the founder of the Maruyama-Shijô school of Japanese painting, and the leading artist in mid-to-late 18th century Kyoto. He is particularly known for his monochrome ink paintings of traditional subjects - such as tiger and dragon - incorporating Western painting techniques such as shading and linear perspective, creating works which were quite innovative for their time but still look wholly Japanese traditional to the modern eye.
Life and career
The son of a farmer, Ôkyo journeyed to Kyoto as a youth and became chônin (a townsman). In his teens, he worked at a toy shop, where he worked painting dolls' faces, and produced a number of uki-e, woodblock prints highlighting Western-style linear perspective, including pieces called megane-e, intended to be viewed through a stereoscope.
He learned something of Western techniques by studying imported Western paintings, and used these techniques to revitalize traditional subjects while displaying a masterful command of brush and ink. In 1775, he was listed first among all painters in Kyoto, in a guide to notable people in the city.
He was succeeded by his pupil Matsumura Goshun, who established a studio on Shijô-dôri, from which the name of the Maruyama-Shijô school is derived. Some of Ôkyo's other students, such as Nagasawa Rosetsu, went on to work as Eccentric painters, independently of any school.
- Morse, Anne Nishimura et al. MFA Highlights: Arts of Japan. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2008. p153.
- Mason, Penelope. History of Japanese Art. Second Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005. pp. 319-22.