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Stephen Addiss

[Uragami Hitsu; Ki Tasuku; Gyokudō, Ryosai]

(b Ikeda, Bizen Province [now Okayama Prefect.], 1745; d Kyoto, 1820).

Japanese Musician, painter, poet and calligrapher. Although he was more famous in his lifetime as a musician and little appreciated as an artist, Gyokudō has come to be considered one of Japan’s great painters in the literati painting tradition (Jap. Bunjinga or Nanga; see Japan §VI 4., (vi), (d)) and his rough, bold works are among Japan’s most powerful and individualistic artistic expressions. He belonged to the third generation of Japanese literati artists, who returned to painting in a more Sinophile, orthodox manner in contrast to the more unorthodox, Japanese approach of second-generation masters such as Ike Taiga and Yosa Buson.

He was born to a samurai-official family, and in 1752, a year after his father died, he took up the Ikeda clan duties. He received a Confucian-style education and as a youth studied the Chinese zither (qin). He was skilled both as a player and composer on this subtle instrument. The creative processes that he developed for composition, particularly with respect to asymmetry and repetition, were transferred to the calligraphy and painting of his later years. He took his art name (...