Essays In Idleness

Essays In Idleness-85
The Suntory Museum recently acquired the twenty volumes of Tsurezuregusa handscrolls by Kaiho Yusetsu for its collection.

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Yusetsu, who was only eighteen when his father died, went through a period of hardship when he earned a living as a commercial artist operating an eya, a shop that produced and sold a variety of painted goods to order, because the Kaiho School his father had founded still lacked the broad-based support necessary for stability as a school of painters.

Then Kasuga-no-Tsubone (1579-1643), who had served as wet nurse to Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shogun, recommended Yusetsu to the shogun to repay the kindness his father, Yusho, had shown her, and Yusetsu found himself in the position of a salaried artist in the service of Iemitsu.

The Kaiho Yusetsu Tsurezuregusa handscrolls are particularly valuable because they illustrate the book in its entirety, and both the text and the pictures are complete.

Many commentaries have attempted to devise methods of reading Essays in Idleness by dividing the book into short passages.

No contemporary record exists, however, of Kenko as the author of Essays in Idleness (Tsurezuregusa), and no trace existed, for a considerable time, of appreciation for that work.

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It is still not clear when and how Essays in Idleness was composed.

Responding to that growing demand, several schools of painting, including the Kano, Tosa, and Sumiyoshi schools, turned to creating their own Tsurezure-e.

As a result, there is no discernible correlation in style or motif between their works; artists freely chose which episodes to depict.

With its 157 illustrations, the Nagusamigusa became an influential source of motifs and designs for other Tsurezure-e.

Many Tsurezure-e have, however, no discernible connection with the Nagusamigusa.


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