Maruyama Okyo (円山応挙)

Okyo MARUYAMA, (June 12, 1733 – August 31, 1795) was a mid Edo period painter. He was the founder of the Maruyama school, which continued in the Kyoto art circles up to the modern period. His approachable style of painting attaches great importance to sketching. There are many examples that his surname is mistakenly written 丸山 instead of 円山.

He was born in 1733 in Ano Village, Kuwata District, Tanba Province (currently Kameoka City, Kyoto Prefecture) as the second son of a farmer. Ano is known for the Anao-ji Temple, one of the Saigoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage temples. Although his boyhood is not known well, he went to Kyoto from his late teens and became a disciple of Yutei ISHIDA, a painter of the Tsurusawa school belonging to Tanyu KANO.

It is known that he was involved in making so-called megane-e (eyeglass pictures) in his twenties. Megane-e are pictures that use the western line perspective method to draw landscapes, etc., which appear three-dimensional when looked at through a convex lense called Nozoki megane which is placed in a box.

From 1766 onwards he referred to himself Okyo. Okyo means that he considered himself equal to Senshunkyo (Qian Xuan) (a painter during the end of the Song Dynasty - the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty), and it seems that he intended to draw pictures at the same level as the Chinese virtuoso. Furthermore, since around this time, he gained the friendship of Yujo, the chief priest of the Onjo-ji Temple Enman-in. Yujo was from the Nijo family of court nobles, and he became a priest and disciple of a monzeki temple (a temple of high rank where members of imperial family and nobility enter the priesthood) and left a book called "Banshi" which kept a record of quotidian matters, in which Okyo's speech and behavior is described in detail and is regarded as a valuable record of the same period.

This chief priest Yujo and the Mitsui family, a business tycoon, were Okyo's main patrons. His representative works, Sichinan-sichifuku-zu (the Seven Misfortunes and Seven Fortunes) and Kujaku-botan-zu (Peacocks and Peonies) etc. had been kept at the Mii-dera Temple (Onjo-ji Temple) Enman-in until after the end of the World War II, and Sessho-zu (Pine Tree in Snow) had been in the possession of the Mitsui family. Moreover, a set of pictures on partitions at the Daijo-ji Temple in Hyogo and Kongo-ji Temple in his hometown Ano can also be counted as one of his representative works.

The most prominent feature of Okyo's painting style is his emphasis on sketching especially among early modern Japanese painters. According to "Banshi" written by Yujo, as described above, it seems that Okyo always secretly carried his sketchbook with him and devoted every spare moment to sketching. Animals, insects and plants are depicted objectively from a variety of different angles in the still existing "Kacho-shasei-zumaki" (Personal Library, Important Cultural Asset) and Shasei-jo (Album of sketches) in the possession of the Tokyo National Museum. Okyo's paintings are based on these sketch techniques and deal with traditional subjects of Japanese painting and creates a screen rich in decorative features. Taking as an example the folding screen Fujibana-zu (Wisteria flowers) at Nezu Museum--while Okyo does not use any outline for drawing the trunks or branches of a Japanese wisteria and depicts them boldly by using tecniques called Tsuketate (see footnote below), he depicts the wisteria's flower truss delicately and in a true-to-life way. He also successfully creates a decorative large screen which includes elements of the Rinpa school as a whole. Okyo paintings were popular among the rich townspeople including the Mitsui family due to his great art of drawing and simple and friendly painting style. His famous disciples are Goshun, Rosetsu NAGASAWA, Tetsuzan MORI and Genki and so forth. The school which had Okyo as its founder was called the Maruyama Shijo school, and has become a source of Kyoto art circles, which are in the lineage of this school.

Representative Works
Sessho-zu Byobu (the folding screen with the painting of the Pine Tree in Snow) (undated) in the possession of the Mitsui Memorial Museum
Shichinan-shichifuku-zukan (1768) in the old stock of the Manno Museum (closed in 2004) (Important Cultural Asset), was donated to the Jotenkaku Museum
Kujaku-botan-zu (1771) in the old storage of the Manno Museum (important cultural asset) was donated to the Jotenkaku Museum
Unryu-zu Byobu (the folding screen with the painting of Dragon in Clouds) (1773) Gifu Prefecture, in the possession of a company (Important Cultural Asset), from the To-ji Temple, Kanchi-in
Fujibana-zu Byobu (the folding screen with the painting of Wisteria flowers) (1776) in the possession of the Nezu Art Museum (Important Cultural Asset)
Uchiku-Fuchiku-zu Byobu (the folding screens with the paintings of rainy-weather bamboo and windy-weather bamboo) (1776) in the possession of the Enko-ji Temple, Kyoto Prefecture (Important Cultural Asset)
The Pictures on the Partitions at the Daijo-ji Temple (165 murals) in 1787 and 1795 is in the possession of the Daijo-ji Temple in Kami-cho, Hyogo Prefecture (Important Cultural Asset)
The Pictures on Partitions at the Kongo-ji Temple in 1788 are in the possession of the Kongo-ji Temple, Kyoto Prefecture (Important Cultural Asset) which have been entrusted to the Tokyo National Museum.

The Pictures on Partitions at the Kotohira-gu Shrine (1787 and 1794) are in the possession of the Kotohira-gu Shrine depicted on order of the Mitsui family.
"Bakufu-zu," a painting on paper, has gained fame

Hozugawa-zu Byobu (the folding screen with the painting of Hozu-gawa River) in 1795 is in the possession of an individual (important cultural asset)