SOKENDAI Review of Cultural and Social Studies


vol.19 (2023)

Chinese Painters in Nagasaki through
Takebe Ryōtai’s Painting Manuals:

Images of “China” in Eighteenth-century Japanese Painting Manuals

WANG Ziqin

Department of Japanese Studies,
School of Cultural and Social Studies,
The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, SOKENDAI

Key words:

painting manual, Nanpin School, Nanga, literati painting, Takebe Ryōtai, Takebe Ayatari, Fei Hanyuan, Li Yongyun, Chinese in Nagasaki

In the 18th century, there was a significant change in the painting manuals compiled by Nanpin School painters: emphasis was placed exclusively on Chinese paintings instead of Kanō School paintings. These painting manuals were created based on the content and structure of Chinese painting manuals, but also presented new ideas. In particular, Japanese painting manuals published from the late 18th to the early 19th century tended to focus on Chinese painters in Nagasaki. This article focuses on the painting manuals published by Takebe Ryōtai (1719–74) and examines, from the perspective of publishing industry, the position of Chinese painters in Nagasaki such as Li Yongyun and Fei Hanyuan by referring to Ming and Qing paintings that were well-received in the late 18th century.

The article concludes that the Chinese painters in Nagasaki became widely recognized and their paintings were studied through inclusion of their paintings in the Japanese painting manuals. There are, however, some discrepancies between the images of these Chinese painters in the manuals and their actual works. The reasons for these discrepancies are attributable to the publishing strategy used in response to the desire among the Japanese for the works of Chinese painters and to promote the author, Takebe Ryōtai, as a painter who was a successor of orthodox Chinese painting. In this way, the Chinese painters in Nagasaki, who were omitted from the history of Chinese Art, became widely recognized in Japan as promoters of the latest Chinese paintings.