Uragami Shunkin (浦上春琴)

Shunkin URAGAMI (1779 - June 16, 1846) was a Japanese literati painter who lived during the late Edo period. He was born in Bizen Province (present-day Okayama Prefecture) as the first son of Gyokudo URAGAMI who was a feudal retainer of the Kamogata clan at that time. His own younger brother was Shukin URAGAMI. While he was given the names Suian, Bunkyotei and Nikyo as his go (second name or alias) besides Shunkin, his real name was Sen and his nickname was Hakukyo and Jussen.
He was commonly called Kiichiro which can be written as '紀一郎' or '喜一郎.'

Brief biography

It is said that he was a descendant of the Uragami clan, Sengoku daimy (Japanese territorial lord in the Sengoku period). He learned the basics of calligraphic works and paintings from his father, Gyokudo URAGAMI, from his childhood. In around 1792, Nyoidojin started buying Shunkin's works along with the works of his father, Gyokudo (Nyoidojin Shushu Shogajo (Nyoidojin collection of calligraphic works and paintings)). When he was 14 years old, his mother died. In 1794, his father, Gyokudo, left the domain. He travelled around various districts with his father. In Edo and Nagasaki, he studied old calligraphic works and paintings at painting schools.

After he finished travelling, he settled down in Kyoto in his twenties and deepened exchanges with best-known literati including Sanyo RAI, Chikuden TANOMURA, Beisanjin OKADA, Hanko OKADA, Shochiku SHINOZAKI, Kaioku NUKINA, Jotei KASHIWAGI and so on.

In 1811, he married Taki of the Fujiki clan. In 1813, he and his wife moved in a house (Yanaginobanba Nijo Kita) to live with his father, Gyokudo, and looked after him. In 1820, Gyokudo died.

He was excellent in Sansui-ga (Chinese-style landscape painting) and Kacho-ga (painting of flowers and birds), and his style was not only vivid and skillful but also well-refined. He competed in obtaining fame with other painters including Chikuto NAKABAYASHI and Baiitsu YAMAMOTO. It is said that his works were sold more than the works of his father, Gyokudo, at that time. Furthermore, he was also excellent in Shodo (calligraphy), Chinese-style poems, Heike Monogatari Heikyoku (the music played on Heike Biwa as accompaniment for the recitation of Heike Monogatari (The tale of the Heike)) and Kokin (fretless seven-stringed zither), and also showed excellence in appraisal of utensils, and calligraphic works and paintings. He wrote a book about theory of painting named "Rongashi" under the name of KI no Shunkin.

In June 1846, he died at the age of 68.

Notable works

Gyokudo Shichijussai Juzo' (Portrait of Gyokudo at the age of 70) (1814) owned by the Hayashibara Museum of Art
Byobu (folding screen) with 'Kacho-zu' (flowers and birds) (1823) owned by the Tokyo National Museum
Kacho-zu' (flowers and birds) (1837) owned by Tokyo University of the Arts
Kaki Kaso Zukan' (Picture book of flowering plants, fruits and vegetables) (1844) owned by the Kyoto National Museum

Literary works

"Suian Seihiroku" (1830)
"Rongashi" (1842)

[Original Japanese]