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Sakai Hoshuku (b. 1878)


“Flowers of the Four Seasons” 1920

Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk
143.5 x 49.7 cm. (56 1/2 x 19 5/8 in.)


Artist’s seal:

Box inscription:
Shiki no Hana, (‘Flowers of the Four Seasons’), titled by Sakai Hoshuku during early winter of the year 1920.” Seal: Sakai Hoshuku

Sakai Hoshuku, called Yuiitsu and Kuzen, was born in 1878, the son of Sakai Doitsu (1845-1913). In some of his inscriptions Hoshuku proudly claimed status as a fifth-generation descendant of Sakai Hoitsu (1761-1828), an assertion that is substantiated by the continuous lineage running from Hoitsu through Oho, Oitsu, and Doitsu to Hoshuku. These artists belong to what has been termed Edo Rimpa by Kobayashi Chu to differentiate it from the earlier Rimpa style developed by Sotatsu and Korin in Kyoto. Edo Rimpa is characterized by more precise and exacting brushwork than the Kyoto style with much wit and spirit while retaining the decorative and dramatic compositions of the earlier artists.

Extant paintings demonstrate the wide range of Hoshuku’s capabilities, including those in the Yamato-e style, while others manifest the influence of the Nagasaki as well as Maruyama-Shijo schools, a wide repertoire indeed. The present painting is very forceful in expression, with a host of flowers and grasses pushing upward in exuberant growth to where two birds enliven the skies above them. In a very subtle arrangement that continues to emphasize the frontal picture plane despite many overlapping forms, such flowers as peonies, hibiscus, chrysanthemums, the blossoming plum, and autumn grasses carry the eye through the composition in such a way as to suggest the changing of the seasons as well. Although not dated by inscription on the painting, Hoshoku’s notation on the box indicates that it was completed by winter of the year 1920.

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