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Biography of Japanese Painter

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Watanabe Kazan (1793 - 1841)

Portrait of Watanabe Kazan, painted by Tsubaki Chinzan 1853

Japanese-style painter, chief retainer (Karo) of the Tabaru Han (clan).


Kazan was born in Edo as the eldest son of Watanabe Sadamichi, Samurai retainer of the Tabaru clan of Mikawa Province (present Aichi Prefecture).
Kazan's real given name was Nobori.
Even though the Watanabes belonged to the upper Samurai class, the family was mired in poverty.
To help with family expenses, Kazan did sideline work by painting pictures.
In 1809, he became a disciple of Kaneko Kinryo, Kacho-ga painter.
Later, Kazan also studied painting under Tani Buncho.
He also studied Confucianism under Sato Issai.
In 1824, Kazan succeeded the family estate as his father died.
Since then, he advanced his career and rose to the rank of the chief retainer for Tabaru clan's subordinate warriors in Edo.
Meanwhile, Kazan studied a variety of painting styles and developped his painting skills.
Especially, he was good at painting portraits.
He cultivated many painters such as Tsubaki Chinzan and Fukuda Hanko.


Just then, Japan was facing the foreign pressures.
Kazan had a sense of crisis and published books calling for social changes.
In 1839, he was put into jail for the reason of criticism to the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Next year, he was ordered to stay at home at Tabaru in Mikawa Province.
In 1841, Kazan fell on his sword (=killed himself).

Landscape of Weaving Sound under Moon Light 1841 Takami Senseki 1837 Ichikawa Beian 1837
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