Sesson (雪村)

Sesson (ca. 1504-1589) was a suiboku (ink-wash painting) painter who lived in the late Muromachi period.

He was a painter and monk who lived through the Sengoku period (period of warring states). He was also called Sesson Shukei. He was born in Hetare, Hitachi Province (present-day Hitachi-Omiya City, Ibaraki Prefecture) in a family of the Satake clan. In a place called Shimomurata nearby, there is a pond where it is said that Sesson washed his painting brush. At a young age he entered Shoju-ji Temple for training; the temple was an ancestral temple of the Satake clan and held many cultural properties such as paintings, which greatly influenced Sesson's paintings. When he was in his mid-fifties, he wandered various places in the Kanto region. It seems that in 1546 in the Aizu region, he imparted the way of appreciation of paintings to Moriuji ASHINA, and in 1550 he visited Odawara City and Kamakura City where he came into contact and communicated with artist monks. Since his mid-sixties, he was active mainly in Oshu (Northern Honshu, the region encompassing Mutsu and Dewa provinces); in his latest years he lived under the patronage of the Tamura clan and is said to have died in the present-day Miharu-machi in Fukushima Prefecture. Much about his life remains unclear, including the year of birth; however, records indicate that he was painting at least until he was eighty-two years old.

As can be expected from his name, Sesson himself was strongly conscious of Sesshu and respected Sesshu, although Sesshu's painting style did not influence Sesson. Of all the ink-wash paintings in the Kanto region, Sesson established an extremely unique painting style. Korin OGATA, who came later, favored Sesson and attempted at reproduction for a number of times. Since the Meiji period, his works were sometimes not evaluated highly and leaked overseas. In 1974 his works were included in various collections of paintings which were organized in Tokyo National Museum; thus the value of his works according to Japanese art history became confirmed. Recently revaluation of his works is on the rise again.

Representative works

Wind and Waves (Nomura Art Museum) Important Cultural Property
The Self-Portrait of Sesson Shukei (The Museum Yamatobunkakan) Important Cultural Property
Flowers and Birds (The Museum Yamatobunkakan) Important Cultural Property: An exhibition was organized in 1981.

Rodohin (Lu Dong-bin) (The Museum Yamatobunkakan) Important Cultural Property
Hawks and Pine Trees (Tokyo National Museum) Important Cultural Property: A memorial stamp was created in 1974.

Qin Gao and Other Immorta (Kyoto National Museum) Important Cultural Property
Summer and Winter (Kyoto National Museum) Important Cultural Property
Hahacho (Tokiwayama Bunko) Important Cultural Property
The Seven Sages of The Bamboo Grove (Hatakeyama Memorial Museum of Fine Art) Important Cultural Property
Landscape of Kinzan-ji Temple (The Art institute of Chicago)
Dragon and Tiger (The Cleveland Museum of Art)
Flowers and Birds (Minneapolis Institute of Arts)
Rokaku Sansui-zu (painting of a palace and landscape) (The Mary Griggs Burke Collection)
Shosho Hakkei-zu (Eight views of the Xiao and the Xiang in China) (private collection)

[Original Japanese]