How Art Historians Cracked the Case of Enigmatic Japanese Painter Hasegawa Tōhaku

Fine arts Allison Meier

From Artsy.net:  by Allison Meier

Hasegawa Tōhaku’s legacy has played out like an art-historical whodunit—which is precisely why Dr. Miyeko Murase, former special consultant in Japanese art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and professor emerita at Columbia University, found it so fascinating. “I thought, this reads like a detective story,” she told Artsy, “and I like detective stories.”

This 16th-century Japanese artist has long been an enigmatic figure. Despite his renown—a series of his painted folding screens, now in the collection of the Tokyo National Museum, ranks among the country’s most famous works—little is known about his early life, where he trained, or how he rose from obscurity to such prominence in the Momoyama period. In 1964, the former director of the Kyoto National Museum, Tsugiyoshi Doi, made a bold claim: that Tōhaku, a leading artist of his age, and Hasegawa Nobuharu, a rural painter of Buddhist icons, were actually one and the same.

The hitch, Murase said, was that Nobuharu’s oeuvre contained no gilded screens. This particular medium, a Tōhaku signature, would have clearly connected the two bodies of work.

Hasegawa Tōhaku (Nobuharu), Eight Views of Xiao and Xiang, 16th century (Momoyama period).

Hasegawa Tōhaku (Nobuharu), Eight Views of Xiao and Xiang, 16th century (Momoyama period).

Read the entire article from Artsy.net



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