Here are biographical glosses for many of the painters and potters Rengetsu was significantly connected to, two of her major literary influences, and several minor artists with whom she may have collaborated with only once. This list is by no means comphrehensive, but will provide an idea of the circles she travelled in and some details from the lives of those artists and writers:
Tomioka Tessai 富岡 鉄斎 (1837~1924)
By far the most personally and artistically important of all of Rengetsu’s collaborators. We are preparing an elaborate biography which will be posted here by Decmber 2012.
Wada Gozan 和田 呉山 (1800~1875)
Gozan was born in Osaka. He became a disciple of the Shijo School painter Mori Tetsuzan (1775-1841) in the line of Muruyama Oukyo. At 42 he lost his wife and became a priest, taking the Buddhist name Gesshin (Moon Mind) and afterward, he became the chief priest of Jinkoin where Rengetsu lived in her later life. During famine, he drew pictures of Kannon and other Bodhisattvas and sold them to provide food to the poor. An artist of extremely wide range, he worked in the lyric style of southern China (nanga), the spare manner of the Shijo painters, the grotesque humor of Otsu-e, and the spare powerful style of Zen painting. Though mainly a painter, he also wrote waka (Japanese poems in the classic 5-7-5-7-7 arrangement of syllables), one of which appears on a collaborative painting in the foundation collection.
Nakajima Raishou 中島 来章 (1796~1871)
Raishou was born in Shiga. He became a disciple of Watanabe Nangaku (1767-1813) and, later, of Maruyama Ozui (1766-1829). One of the most technically expert of the Shijo¬–Maruyama painters of the late Edo Period, he often drew mountains and flowers. He was designated one of the “The Four Fine Painters of Kyoto,” along with Yokoyama Seiki, Kishi Renzan (1804-1859), and Shiokawa Bunrin. His accomplished pupils included Kouno Bairei (1844-1895) and Kawabata Gyokusho (1842-1913) and he is said to have taught Rengetsu some painting techiniques.
Mori Kansai 森 寛斎 (1814~1894)
Kansai was born the a son of samurai of the Choshu Clan, with the surname Ishida. In 1831, he went to Osaka and became a pupil of Mori Tetsuzan. He learnt paintings of the Maruyama school and later, he was adopted by Tetsuzan. In 1855, He drew paintings in the Imperial Palace. During the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, he devoted his energies to civil affairs and often came and went between Choshu and Kyoto as a secret messenger. It is said he had good contacts with Shinagawa Yajirou. After the Meiji Restoration, he joined Jounsha(the painters brotherhood in Kyoto) and became an authority in the Kyoto painting circles after Shiokawa Bunrin had died. He died at 81.
Kishii Chikudou 森 寛斎 (1826~1897)
He was born in Hikone as a son of samurai of the Hikone Clan. In 1836, when he was 11 he learnt paintings of the Kano school. In 1842, when he was 17 he became a pupil of Kano Eigaku but he doubted the teachings style of the Kano school and the next year, he became a pupil of Kishi Renzan who was a member of the Shijo school. In 1854, he married Renzan’s daughter Yasuko and was adopted by the Kishi family. During the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, he had to endure hardship since he couldn’t earn a living by his paintings. At that time, his master Renzan died and their house was burned by war. He also lost many sketches and copies by fire. He started other business like keeping a inn but failed. In 1873, he earned a livelihood by drawing designs of resist dyeing. His designs became popular and he started drawing great works. In 1880, he became a teacher in Kyoto painting school. His worked received many awards and he became authority of the Kyoto painting circles. He died at 72. Tomioka Tessai lamented his death and wrote the epitaph.
Hasegawa Gyokuho 岸 竹堂 (1822~1879)
He was born in Kyoto in 1822 (Bunsei 5th). His father, Hasegawa Genmon was a painter. He learnt techniques of Shijo group(*One of the biggest sects in painting world. Shiokawa Bunrin, Takeuchi Seiho and Domoto Insho were attached to this sects and it still exists today) under Matsumura Keibun (1779-1843) and flourished in Kyoto painting circles. He was good at painting flowers and birds. Yokoyama Seiki(?-1864) and Yagi Kiho (1806-1876) were his fellow pupils but he was said to be the best painter in Shijo group. In Meiji 12th , he died at 58.
Shiokawa Bunrin 塩川 文麟 (1808~1877)
He was born in Kyoto in 1801 (Kyowa 1st). His father served under Yasuikonpiragu (a shrine in Higashiyama). He lost his parents when he was young. He liked painting and started learning by watching his master who were learning paintings under Hara Zaichu(1750-1837). Since Bunrin was learning hard, his master allowed him to be a pupil of Okamoto Toyohiko (1773-1845). Afterward, he became a retained painter of Yasuikonpiragu. Although he mastered techniques of Shijo group, he often used western styles of painting after Meiji era. Most of his paintings were landscapes but he could draw any kinds of paintings including bird-and-flower paintings. In 1871, Kouno Bairei(1844-1895), who was a pupil of Nakajima Raishou, became him pupil. In 1877, he died at 70.
Reizei Tamechika 冷泉 為恭 (1823~1864)
He was born in 1823 as the third child of Kano Eitai(?-1842) who was a painter of Kyogano(*a painting group from Azuchimomoyama era to Meiji era). 9th generation Kyogamo Kano Eigaku(1790-1867) was his father’s brother. His grandfather on his father’s side, Kano Eisho(1762-1830) was also a painter. Although he was born in Kyogano family, he intended to revive Yamatoe(*Yamato-e is a style of Japanese painting inspired by Tang Dynasty paintings and developed in the late Heian period. It is considered the classical Japanese style). He didn’t have masters so learnt Yamatoe by himself by copying old paintings in Kozanji, Jingoji Shogoin and so on. He also learnt the study of ancient Japanese thought and culture by visiting scholars.
It is said that he was already praised for his paintings before he became 13. He also had wide knowledge of the study of ancient Japanese until 18. In 1843 (Tenpo 4th), Kano Osanobu(1796-1846) who was a man of authority of painters in Edo (Tokyo) at that time asked him to copy picture scrolls. It shows his skill was trusted. It is said that he had copied more than 90 picture scrolls when he was young.
While he had established a reputation as a painter, he sometimes met people who supported the Tokugawa Shogunate. It made the group who supported Mikado (emperor) have hostility to him because he was believed to be a supporter of the group. His thoughtless actions aroused suspicion that “He may leaks information of anti-Tokugawa Shogunate groups” and some extremists started designing his life.
He got acquainted with Sakai Tadayoshi (1813-1873) who was the head of Kyoto Shoshidai (*The Kyoto Shoshidai was an important administrative and political office in the early modern government of Japan.) because he wanted to watch Bandainagonemaki (picture scroll of Bandainagon) which Sakai had. His wish came true and he could copied it but Kyoto Shoshidai is one of the important institutions of the Tokugawa Shogunate and anti-government groups regarded the people who visit there as the supports of Tokugawa Shogunate. In 1862(Bunkyu 2nd), he escaped to Kii (Wakayama) where his friend lived. He stayed there for 9 months and changed his name to hide himself. But the chase was severe so he went to Sakai (Osaka) and Yamato (Nara) but finally, he was caught by Dairaku Gentaro (1832?-1871) and some other samurai of the Choshu Clan and killed. He died at 42.
Although his family name is Reizei, he didn’t have relationships with the Reizei family. He wasn’t a court noble and called himself Reizei without permission of the Reizei family.
Kinkozan IV 四代目錦光山 (1824~1884)
Kinkozan is a name of potter of Kyo-yaki and also his works. Kobayashi Sobei Around Shoho (1644~1648), Kobayashi Tokuemon (Kinkozan the first) opened a kiln in Awata Kyoto. From 1755 downward, Kinkozan made high-class potter for the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Kuroda Koryou 黒田 光良 (fl. late 19th c.)
He was a potter in Meiji period. He was born in Kyoto and around the end of Tenpo, he served as assistant to Otagaki Rengetsu. In 1879, he opened a kiln and called himself Rengetsu the second.
Ukita Ikkei 宇喜多 一蕙 (1795~1859)
He was a painter during the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate. He was Ukita Hirobumi’s son. It is said he was a descendant of Ukita Hideie who was a daimyo during Azuchi-Momoyama period. He studied a style of the Tosa school under Tanaka Totsugen for 7 years. He often drew classic paintings and was called one of the masters of restorationists with Totsugen and Reizei Tamechika. Tomioka Tessai became a pupil of him. He was also good at Waka and calligraphy.
While he was drawing classic paintings, he was committed to the idea of the principle of reverence for the Emperor and the elimination of foreigners. In 1853, when Matthew Calbraith Perry came to Japan, he drew a painting which criticized the attitude of the Tokugawa Shogunate. After that, he often criticized the Tokugawa Shogunate by drawing paintings. During Ansei Purge in 1858, he and his son were arrested and sent to Edo. He could go back to Kyoto but died there because of disease which he got in prison.
Baisao III (1791~1879)
An obscure painter who flourished in the late 19th c. A dealer of articles for sencha tea ceremony, he took the Baisao name seemingly of his own accord, perhaps because of an affinity with the painings of Baisao I & Baisao II. There one known example of a collaborative painting between Baisao and Rengetsu in the Rengetsu Foundation collection.
Miyagawa Kozan 宮川 香山 (1842~1916)
He is known as Makuzu Kozan in foreign countries. He was born in Kyoto. His father was a potter. When he was 19, his father and old brother died and he took over his family business. His father presented a tea set to the Imperial Court and it was called Kozan so he called himself Kozan the first and made pottery. He got a reputation and in 1866 when he was 25, he was asked to make pottery by the Tokugawa Shogunate to give it to the Imperial Court. In 1870 when he was 29, he was invited by wealthy merchants and the next year, he opened a workshop to make pottery for exportation in Yokohama.
He named the pottery made in Yokohama “Makuzu-yaki” and exported them. He also found new technique to cut the cost. He kept studying pottery and he even had hawks and bears in his garden and watched them to find delicate representation. In 1876 when he was 35, his Makuzu-yaki was showed in the Expo in Philadelphia and was beyond all praise. His name became famous in abroad. However, the productivity became a problem because his delicate technique needed many years to finish works. To cope with it, he changed his style. His new style had a good reputation and he kept exporting Makuzu-yaki. He died at 75.
Takahashi Douhachi II 高橋 道八 (二代目) (1783~1855)
Although he was Takahashi Douhachi the second, he was commonly known as Ninami Douhachi (仁阿弥道八). He was born as the second child of Takahashi Douhachi the first. Since his old brother died young, he took over the patrimony when he was 29 and opened a kiln in Gojozaka. He studied pottery under Okuda Eisen, Houzan Bunzou and so on. He was known as one of the experts of Kyo-yaki. He received the pseudonym of Nin from Ninnaji and Ami from Daigoji therefore, he called himself Ninami. He spread the technique of Kyo-yaki over the whole country.
Murase Souseki 村瀬 双石 (1822~18775)
A painter during Edo and Meiji period. He was born in Kyoto. He wasa member of the Shijo–Maruyama school. His adopted son, Murase Gyokuden became a famous painter in Meiji paiting circles.
Kawabe Kakyou 河辺 華挙 (1844~1928)
He was born in Osaka as the firstborn son of a painter of Chuguji, Kawabe Kain. He studied paintings under his father and later, he learnt under Tosa Mitsukiyo, Kano Eigaku and so on. In 1880, he copied paintings in Shoso- in by the order of Osaka office. He worked in Kyoto painting school (Today, it is Kyoto City University of Arts). His works received many awards. Mori Kansai was his friend. He died at 85.
Mori Tessan 森 徹山 (1775~1841)
He was a painter of the Shijo school and was born in Osaka. He was a son of Mori Sosen’s old brother Shuhou and was adopted by Sosen. He learnt paintings under Maruyama Oukyo by Sosen’s advice. He had raccoon dogs and sketched many animals to improve technique. He often drew lions and tigers. Although he was a Sosen’s successor, his style was different from Sosen and mainly used a style of paintings of the Maruyama school. He popularized the style of the Maruyama school in Osaka. He was honest and doted on children. It is said he sometimes drew patterns of clothing for children. He died at 67 and buried in Kimeiin in Kyoto.
Suzuki Hyakunen 鈴木 百年 (1825~1891)
He was Suzuki Seikai’s son and born in Kyoto. He studied under Onishi Chinnen who was a member of the Maruyama school. He became a teacher of Kyoto painting school in Meiji 13th. He was good at drawing the beauties of nature. He had many pupils and they were called the Suzuki school. He died at 67.