As of September 7, the Rietberg Museum in Zurich will exhibit the paintings of Nagasawa Rosetsu (1754-1799) for a period of two months. This exhibition Rosetsu: Ferocious Brush, will be a rare opportunity to see the work by one of the most brilliant 18thcentury painters of Japan in a European museum.
The artist – born in a low rank samurai family – is often labeled as one of the three eccentrics, along with the painters Itō Jakuchū (1716-1800) and Soga Shōhaku (1730-1781). Rosetsu is known for his virtuosity and many styles, sometimes bold and dynamic, sometimes highly detailed and realistic. The taste for realism was something that Rosetsu had learned in his early years when he was a pupil Maruyama Ōkyo (1733-1795), the leading artist of the Maruyama-Shijō school in Kyoto. Throughout his career Rosetsu was fond of painting animals.
The exhibition includes sixty of Rosetsu’s paintings. Among those works is a pair of screens with a tiger and dragon design belonging to the Zen temple Muryōji. Especially for this exhibition the temple allowed the screens to travel to Europe. For some works it will be the very first time to be exhibited outside of Japan.
After one month a few works in the exhibition will be replaced by other Rosetsu paintings. All works are included in the scholarly catalogue will be published along the exhibition and which includes articles by the Rietberg museum’s Japanese art curator Khanh Trinh and Edo period painting expert Matthew McKelway of Columbia University.
Khanh Trinh & Matthew McKelway, Rosetsu: Ferocious Brush, Munich: Prestel Verlag, 2018. 246 pages. ISBN 978-3-7913-5726-3