Hasegawa Tōhaku’s Pine Trees folding screen painting

Pine Trees by Hasegawa Tōhaku

Hasegawa Tohaku pine tree
Hasegawa Tohaku pine trees

“Pine Trees” is said to be a work drawn by Hasegawa Tōhaku (1539-1610) when he was in the 50s. And the painting is his masterpiece as well as a masterpiece of the early modern ink painting. It is rare examples reflected in Japan, the attitude of faithfulness to Mokkei (?-1269) who was a Chinese monk and painter in the Southern Song Dynasty.

He was working on the ceiling painting of Daitokuji Temple in Kyoto around the age of 50, and he saw the Chinese monk’s painting at the temple and received a great shock. He trained hard at Daitokuji Temple to acquire the techniques of Mokkei’s ink painting.

“Pine Trees” was drawn at the time when he began painting ink paintings mainly. This work shows the pine trees standing in the haze. He created the space with depth, where the light of the morning sun wrapped the pine forest in the haze, with only one black color. Hasegawa Tōhaku drew boldly with a rough and quick brush movement, but he expressed the quiet world of Zen splendidly. It is said that this scenery imagined a pine tree in the Noto district where he was born. 

Experts think that this work was still in the stage of a draft and only the part because the papers are thin and the lamination is misaligned. Despite being unfinished, this majestic national treasure landscape painting has continued to attract viewers.



Title:Pine Trees


Author:Hasegawa Tōhaku

Period:Azuchi-Momoyama Period, 16 century

Own:Tokyo National Museum

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