Published Sep 19 2013, by

Uzi River Snow Scene

Bunrin Shiokawa (1808–1877) was an artist in Kyoto and noted for the breadth of his artistic range, both stylistically and thematically. His training as a painter included studies with Okamoto Toyohiko (1773–1845), a well-regarded artist of the Shijō (Maruyama) school (active eighteenth to nineteenth century), whose strength was in flower-and-bird subjects. Bunrin routinely applied perspective and lighting techniques, hallmarks of that school, to his land-scape paintings.

This painting conveys Bunrin’s refinement of the technique. In Shijō fashion, a lone boat has been rendered floating on the Uzi River below a large bridge that fades into a snow-covered landscape. The hanging scroll lends itself well to an oblique perspective, here expertly animated by the balance of vibrant color, defining the expanse of the river and bridge, on the left, and muted color, in the form of the ghostly mist that envelops the bridge and mountains, on the right. The broad expanse of the Uzi River, flowing to the south of Kyoto, was a documented source of poetic inspiration in the Japanese literary tradition. For its natural beauty and spiritual significance to the Japanese artistic psyche, it was a popular subject throughout the arts of the Edo (1615–1868) and Meiji (1868–1912) periods.