Kose No Kanaoka
Japanese, 9th century, male.
Active during the second half of the 9th century.
Founded in 886, the Bureau of Painting ( e-dokoro) of the Imperial Court became the focus of painting at Heian (now Kyoto). Soon the names of artists who were appreciated for their artistic talents and not merely as craftsmen begin to appear, and the name of Kose no Kanaoka is mentioned several times as Japan’s first genius of painting. Much respected by the scholars of his day, Kanaoka was asked by Sugawara no Michizane (845-903), statesman, scholar and poet, to paint a view of the imperial park and gardens in the years 868-872. This would suggest that on this occasion Kanaoka tried to render the gardens faithfully, while in other works he gave his imagination freer rein, painting scenes from Chinese texts on ritual screens. Kanaoka was also the founder of the Kose school, Japan’s first school of painting. There his descendants would succeed him as court painters, by the end of the 9th century developing a distinctively Japanese style of painting....