Aoki Shukuya, died 1802
Scene from Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Color on silk
Romance of the Three Kingdoms was a Ming Dynasty epic narrative that circulated
widely in China in the form of woodblock-printed books. The popularity
of this story and others like it grew rapidly in Japan during
the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Japanese
publishers sometimes copied and published imported Chinese versions.
Many also commissioned translators to render them into easily
readable prose that appealed to a wide segment of the literate
population. Shukuya's familiarity with the narrative likely came
through this means. The scene depicts a band of soldiers ascending
a mountain pass to a fortress tucked away in the crags near the
mountain's peak, but the precise episode of Romance of the
Three Kingdoms Shukuya depicts is not known.
Shukuya's rendition of the landscape is
much more formal and structured than most Chinese bunjinga.
It has a polished look that Chinese artists would have dismissed
as too professional. Nonetheless, it typifies Japanese bunjinga
painters' approach to landscape. A comparison with the yamato-e
Kasuga mandala and the hatsuboku landscapes in this gallery,
and the landscape elements of the screen paintings in the next
gallery, reveals how different the bunjinga approach was.
Ackland Art Museum, The University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gift of the Ackland Associates,