Artists & Designers

Tosa Mitsuyoshi (1539-1613)

Tosa Mitsuyoshi was a member of the Tosa school of painting, which is typically associated with yamato-e or Japanese style painting. Yamato-e emerged in the Heian period (794-1185) and was concerned with Japanese subject matter such as seasonal events, genre scenes, and themes from classical literature. It is characterized by bright, opaque colors and a brush handling technique called tsukuri-e (manufactured painting) that obscures brush strokes and presents a smooth, unified surface. Tosa artists were only associated with yamato-e from the 15th century. The yamato-e style was sponsored through the Edokoro, or Imperial Painting Bureau, an atelier from which the court and nobility commissioned paintings. It was established in 808 CE and abolished in 1868, and several Tosa school elders were head of the atelier in the years between 1469 and 1569.

The Tosa school was a hereditary workshop, though membership was not restricted to blood relations and was extended to relatives by marriage as well as employees. Members of the atelier took the same family name and a characteristic personal name. Tosa school artists used 'Mitsu' (bright) or 'Hiro' (extensive) as the first element in their two character personal names. Tosa Mistuyoshi was most likely a student who became head of the school when political upheaval in the late 16th century forced it to move from Kyoto to Sakai. Under his direction, the Tosa school workshop responded to an increasing demand for decorative screens. The Tosa school was eventually moved back to Kyoto, and it declined and ceased to exist by the 19th century.

Jeelan Bilal-Gore, Digital Collections Content Coordinator, 2015.

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