Kano Yasunobu (狩野安信)

Yasunobu KANO (January 10,1614-October 1,1685) was a painter in the Kano school during the Edo period. He was a son of Takanobu KANO, and a brother of Tanyu KANO and Naonobu KANO. He was the forefather of the Nakabashi Kano family. Itcho HANABUSA was a disciple of his.

Since Sadanobu KANO, head of the Kano family, did not have a child when he fell into critical condition in 1623, Naganobu KANO and Yoshinobu KANO, two major figures in the family, had discussions in which they decided to adopt Yasunobu, then 10 years old, as Sadanobu's child and have him take over the Soryo family (the head family). Compared to the existing works of his brothers, his works suggest that he did not have a gift for painting and that he seemed to be harassed by Tanyu in various ways. Some of his episodes are included in 'Sangyoan Zasshi' (Journal of Sangyoan), in which Tangen KIMURA, who studied under Tanshin KANO, Tanyu's son, discussed painting; for instance the reason why Nakabashi family took over soke (the head family) was because of Tanyu's consideration to enable Yasunobu to earn his daily bread, which is ill-intended and differs from historical facts; and when a roju (senior councilor) told him and two big brothers to paint, Tanyu said to him, "Watch your expert brothers paint," which humiliated him. Facing these harassments by Tanyu, Yasunobu went out of his way to visit Soko YAMAGA to paint mushae (ukiyoe prints of warriors), trained in the art of painting such as learning the teachings of yusoku kojitsu (court and samurai rules of ceremony and etiquette), and was conferred hogen in 1662. Additionally, he married off his daughters to Masunobu KANO, Tanyu's adopted son who was alienated from him after Tanyu had a biological child, and Tsunenobu KANO, Tanyu's nephew, thus trying to unite the Kano family while competing against Tanyu.

Gado Yoketsu' (Secret of the Art of Painting), which Yasunobu wrote in his last days in 1680, is often quoted as providing the ideas of Naonobu on painting and as a theory of painting that is representative of the Kano school. In that, Yasunobu claimed that there were two different types of great paintings; one was 'shitsuga' (painting of quality), which was made possible by the talent of a genius, and the other was 'gakuga' (painting of learning), which resulted from learning of classics. He also insisted that 'gakuga,' which could be handed down to the painters of later generations through classics, overweighed 'shitsuga,' which would end in a product of only one generation however great the painting was. But Yasunobu never denied good points of shitsuga, and set much store on its attitude, which should be called shinga (painting of mind) that 'concentrated the mind's eye on the tip of a brush.'. These words were well reflected in his careful and sincere works, which were based on funpon (painting examples).

Major Works
Akikusa ni Shika-zu Byobu (deer in flowering plants of autumn, folding screen) at Sendai City Museum
Yanagi ni Yacho (wild birds on a willow, folding screen) at The Okura Shukokan Museum of Fine Arts
at Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art
Fuji-miho Matsubarazu (Mt.Fuji and pine trees in Miho) at Ibaraki Prefectural Museum
at Seimei-kaikan, a pair of six-folding screen

[Original Japanese]