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Maruyama Ōshin (1790-1838)

“Butterflies and Peonies” 1820 蝴 蝶 牡丹图

Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk
122.0 x 49.8 cm. (48 x 19 5/8 in.)

“During the second lunar month of spring of the year 1820, painted by Ōshin.”

Artist’s seals:
Ōshin; Hyakuri

Kyōto no Nihonga Ten, the ninth annual exhibition of the Kyōto Ten.

While painted during the spring, the peony in this painting blooms into the summer and here Ōshin has depicted butterflies irresistibly celebrating the gorgeous blossoms regardless of the calendar. The artist was the grandson of the famous late 18th century painter Maruyama ōkyo (1733-1799), inheriting the style through his teacher Komai Genki (1747-1797), one of his grandfather’s ten best students. Ōshin continued the Maruyama school style, anchored in a careful observation of nature that inspired naturalistic and realistic depictions. While the detailed representation of the flowers and leaves here does not veer from the Maruyama code, the manipulated composition and the cut branches silhouetted against a blank, hardly naturalistic ground suggest an understanding of the decorative mode of the Rimpa school. Ōshin’s broad stylistic and technical range did not go unappreciated. He was highly ranked in the literature of historians and critics of his time and was later the recipient of imperial patronage.

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