Tonouchi Mishō: A Japanese-Style Painter Who Expressed the World of Yamato-e with the New Sense

Frost

Frost by Tonouchi Mishō
Frost by Tonouchi Mishō

The painter who adored the world of Yamato-e and tried to make use of the traditional methods and the world of classics with the new sense was Tonouchi Mishō. Mishō who was born in Kanda, Tokyo in 1892 initially studied under Terasaki Kōgyō in Tokyo. After that, he went to Kyoto to enter Kyoto City Specialist School of Painting (the predecessor of Kyoto University of the Arts) and studied under Kikuchi Keigetsu. He was accepted for the 2nd Teiten Exhibition his first time ever in 1920 and he was awarded the special selection at the 6th Teiten Exhibition in the same year (1925) when he graduated from and Kyoto City Specialist School of Painting. He was awarded the special selection again with his work entitled “Tōnomine Shunsetsu (Spring snowed Tōnomine Temples)” at the 8th Tenten Exhibition in 1927 and chosen as a judge at the 10th Teiten Exhibition in 1929. Especially, “Tōnomine Shunsetsu (Spring snowed Tōnomine Temples)” that he was awarded the special selection as his second time gives off a clean atmosphere in the sanctuary of Tōnomine Temples and Tanzan Shrine that was damped with wispy snow so as to reproduce the world of traditional Yamato-e.

Tōnomine Shunsetsu (Spring snowed Tōnomine Temples)” by Tonouchi Mishō
Tōnomine Shunsetsu (Spring snowed Tōnomine Temples)” by Tonouchi Mishō
 Tōnomine Shunsetsu (Spring snowed Tōnomine Temples)” by Tonouchi Mishō

He kept on exhibiting without any auditions at the New Bunten Exhibitions and became a commissioned painter for the Japan Art Exhibition after World War II. He passed away in 1964 at the age of 73.

“Frost” featured herein was produced in 1937 when Mishō was 55 years old. 7 pieces or 8 pieces of the largely flowered chrysanthemums shining in white and gold are in full bloom on the vertical length screen dignifiedly. A coarse oilpaper umbrella is opened up slightly diagonally above the largely flowered chrysanthemums, which may protect the frost. The strict line drawing that was succeeded from his master, Kikuchi Keigetsu, and the lyricism was unified to create the large flower and bird space. Especially, the linear composition of the coarse oilpaper umbrella and the supporting bamboo sticks, and the curving composition of the large flowers of chrysanthemums, the branches and leaves show a clear resonance with each other so that they cannot lose the tense atmosphere but express the rich poetic sentiment. This is a bird-and-flower painting that does not make us think of the production in the world of the turmoil and despair after defeat in World War II but brings about elegance and allowance.