Rare But 'poor' Drawings By 3rd Shogun To Be Shown In Tokyo

Rare but 'poor' drawings by 3rd shogun to be shown in Tokyo

The Tokugawa dynasty shogun who sealed off Japan from the rest of the world fancied himself as a bit of a painter, even though he wasn't very good.

Two original ink brush paintings by Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604-1651) will be displayed for the first time at the Fuchu Art Museum in western Tokyo in March.

"Horned Owl" and "Rabbit" will be part of the "Perverse Japanese Art: From Zen Painting to Heta-uma" exhibition.

Iemitsu, the third shogun, solidified the foundation for the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1867). He persecuted Christians and completed an isolationist policy that lasted more than two centuries.

In his spare time, Iemitsu enjoyed painting and sometimes gave his works to retainers, museum officials said.

Less than 10 drawings by Iemitsu survive. They are all executed in a simple style, according to Nobuhisa Kaneko, curator of the museum.

"I cannot tell if Iemitsu intentionally painted badly, but it was his style," Kaneko said.

"Horned Owl" depicts a bird with an innocent-looking facial expression. It has been stored at Yogenji temple in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward.

"Rabbit" was discovered in Kyoto several years ago. It depicts a hairy animal perched on a stump with big black eyes.

The drawing is mounted on a hanging scroll with a crest of hollyhock that symbolizes the Tokugawa clan. It was kept in a heavy box and handed down through generations with great care.

The exhibition will open on March 16 and close on May 12. It will feature about 140 unconventional paintings, which are often unskillful but funny. Forty-four will be displayed for the first time.

The collection will include works by famous painters, such as Rosetsu Nagasawa, Jakuchu Ito and Gibon Sengai.