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Updated : 22/06/2002

KANO SANSETSU AND THE DESIGN OF HORSES

"In the Stibbert Museum is preserved a Scroll of horses of great interest attributed to Kano Sansetsu (1589-1651). The Scroll is entirely dedicated to the various types of horse of which are drawn 33 examples; even if there is not the seal of the author the style is clearly that of Sansetsu. In the Scroll is noticed a strong sensibility towards the forms adopted in the art of Sansetsu, that is the sensibility of a virtuoso of his art; therefore it is very probable that the Scroll is of Kano Sansetsu. Since ancient times, the horse constituted an important artistic motif in art. For example, the fresco of the inside room of the funeral tumult of Takehara is well known (prefecture of Fukuoka), representative a typical example of funeral decorative art. It is said that the drawing that has been represented, has been performed on the wake of a Chinese legend according to which a filly was united with a dragon, giving a horse endowed with an extraordinary strength. In this drawing it has been in relief also the similarity between the figure of the dragon and that of the winged horses discovered in the Korean archaeological sites (currently it can be admired in the National Museum of Korea). Nevertheless, in the antechamber of this funeral room, other two legendary animals are drawn, the Susaku (a typology of the phoenix from the red color) and the Gembu (a kind of turtle-snake), therefore according to some experts the drawing in matter would belong to a representation of the" Four divine animals" that symbolize the four directions. Anyway it is interesting to notice that the men of the epoch projected in the figure of the horse a sacred image. The period of the funeral decorations of the Kofuns (tumults) [V and VI century], corresponds in China to the Northern and Southern period of the Two Dynasties. Compared to an objective style that is noticed in the landscape drawinges with the technique of the perspective of the Chinese painters of the epoch, the fresco of the tumult of Takehara gives at first sight the impression of an archaism that almost grazes roughness, but this can be considered as a primordial characteristic element that later would have given life to one of the peculiar expressions of the Japanese art: the simplicity.[...]"
to read the entire article, download the attached file (English and Italian)
Author:
Motoaki Kono
Download the entire article (English or Italian): Kano Sensetsu and the design.doc   Kano Sensetsu e il disegno.doc

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