Mount Asama


Mount Asama

Paintings / Edo

By Aodo Denzen (1748-1822)

Edo period, 19th century

Oil on paper



Important Cultural Property

This is a depiction of Mount Asama in Shinshu, or present-day Nagano prefecture. It is painted using oil, which is quite unusual for a folding screen painting. The painter, Aodo Denzen, associated with scholars who studied Western culture through the Dutch language. He studied Western painting and went on to create his own copperplate engravings and oil paintings.
A huge, pink mountain and a stream of white smoke are drawn against a blue sky. A single, solitary tree stands before the mountain. Lumber lies on the ground on the left-hand screen, while felled trees with foliage still intact are scattered further to the left. With nary a person in sight, the painting exudes a mysterious atmosphere.
There were actually a number of sketches of this work, drawn at several stages in the creative process. These featured a man cutting trees on the left and another figure keeping watch over a charcoal kiln. Both were removed in the final work, though, and all that remains is the lumber strewn across the ground and the smoke from the kiln. This reveals how the subject matter of the painting changed from the daily activities of contemporary life to the landscape itself.
The sketches also featured shadows cast by the lumber, but these were also removed from the final painting. The overall composition lacks a certain three-dimensionality or sense of depth, but this may have been an intentional decision by the painter.

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