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The Study of “Landscapes of the Four Seasons” painting in the Hikone Castle Museum Collection: Unfolding the Development of Historical Figure Paintings of the Four Seasons in the Ming Dynasty
historical figure paintings of the four seasons
landscapes of the four seasons
“Landscapes of the Four Seasons”, collected by the Hikone Castle Museum in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, is a set of paired hanging scroll consists of the scenery of four seasons and four historical figures. There are other hanging scroll works in the Ming Dynasty with similar characteristics, but such these paintings were not considered as a unique genre in the past. Taking the “Landscapes of the Four Seasons” in the Hikone Castle Museum as a model, this thesis tries to uncover the existence of historical figure paintings of the four seasons and trace back its development. The thesis starts with the“Landscapes of the Four Seasons” in the Hikone Castle Museum, which was once the collection of Muromachi and Edo Shoguns. The painting was influenced by the style of Song and Yuan Dynasties and implied the value of seclusion. In order to clarify the formation and characteristics of historical figure paintings of the four seasons, this thesis reviews paintings with the elements of four seasons, including landscapes of the four seasons, flowers and birds of the four seasons, etc. In the historical context of four seasons painting, the creation of historical figure paintings of the four seasons is supposed to have started in the Song Dynasty. Many historical figure paintings of the four seasons survived today are scattered around the world, but it is still possible to spot and group them once again according to certain traits. Historical figure paintings were popular in the Ming Dynasty, referred by many poets and copied by the Kano school in Japan. We can find a number of works that may be historical figure paintings of the four seasons, and most of them turn out to be originated from the Zhe School and the Ming court. The thesis not only proposes a new way of looking at paintings, but also provides another perspective to interpret the Zhe School and the Ming court paintings.
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