Kano Mitsunobu

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Kanô Mitsunobu was a son of Kanô Eitoku, and head of the Kanô school following Eitoku's death.

He trained under his father throughout his early career, and was designated his successor in 1571. He worked alongside Eitoku on the paintings for the interiors of Azuchi castle for Oda Nobunaga in the late 1570s, and on paintings at the Imperial Palace, Jurakudai, and Osaka castle in the 1580s, commissions from Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Following Eitoku's death and Mitsunobu's succession to the head of the Kanô school, the school continued to be patronized by Hideyoshi, though many commissions began to go to Hasegawa Tôhaku, and to Kanô Sanraku, who had distanced himself somewhat from Mitsunobu and the core branch of the school.

Mitsunobu's style is described as being less monumental and powerful than his father's, with a flatter feel, and greater emphasis on detail and elegant portrayals of birds and flowers and the four seasons. One of his more celebrated works was the decoration of the guest hall (kyakuden) at the Kangakuin at Onjôji, a structure commissioned by Toyotomi Hideyori in 1600. Unlike his father's compositions, which might be argued to attempt to create the impression of an extension of the space into a natural scene, Mitsunobu's emphasizes the layout of the room and the artificiality of its segmentation, with separate compositions on different fusuma panels.

Late in his life, Mitsunobu came to undertake many commissions from the Tokugawa clan, which required him to make frequent journeys to Edo from his home and base of operations in Kyoto. He died in 1608, while returning from one of these journeys.


  • Mason, Penelope. History of Japanese Art. Second Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005. pp257-258.