Ogata Kōrin. Rimpa Style Decoration
The painter Ogata Kōrin (Kyoto, 1658-1716), who also worked in the media of lacquer, ceramics and textiles, was one of the leading figures of the Rimpa tradition of decoration. The style originated in Edo during the Keicho period (1596-1615) with the calligrapher Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558-1637), whose elegant script adorned the decorated fans and paper panels by Tawaraya Sōtatsu (c.1576 – c.1643). The peak achievement of Rimpa decoration would come some hundred years later during the Genroku period (1688-1703), with Kōrin and his brother Kenzan. All of these figures were born into families of artisan craftsmen. Koetsu’s family were makers of precious swords (katana), whilst Sotatsu’s were makers of painted fans and Korin’s produced kimonos. Craft skill was central to Rimpa art, whose masterpieces – screens, lacquer-work and ceramics – presupposed a deep mastery of traditional techniques. Here again, as throughout Japanese art, the distinction between ‘major’ and ‘minor’ arts, which is so dear to the West, cannot be applied.
Towards the end of the Edo period (1603-1868), during the time of Bunka Bunsei (1804-1830) – one of the the most productive periods of Japanese history – Sakai Hoitsu (1761-1828), a member of the Edo school of Rimpa work, published a collection of Korin’s work to mark the centenary of his death. This would prove to be a decisive influence upon Suzuki Kiitsu (1796-1858), his pupil and the last great artist of the Rimpa school.
The Rimpa artists produced work that was decisive to the development of Japanese art in the Edo period. Their art would have a profound effect throughout the Meiji period (1868-1912) and an influence that is still to seen in contemporary art.