Famous Painters of Sometsuke

In this post I’d like to show several examples from a wide range of my favorite pot painters, both antique and modern. Some of these painters’ works are very well known here in the West, others are more unfamiliar. In future posts I’ll take a look at some of these potters in more depth.

Shozan, 10.7 cm. My Collection.

Shozan, 13.4 x 11.1 x 4.1 cm Copyright Yorozuen

Shozan is a great painter, one of my many favorites. His paintings are often a little rougher than some of the more popular painters, with less clean lines and an almost impressionistic feel. The prices for his pots are correspondingly a little lower, which makes me happy! I love the bamboo rim on the first pot from my collection, a great little detail.

Tsukinawa Yusen, 15.5 x 2.6 cm Copyright Yorozuen

Tsukinawa Yusen, 9.3 x 8.2 x 6 cm Copyright Yorozuen

Probably the most famous Sometsuke bonsai pot painter of them all, Yusen’s paintings can vary from clean lines and high details, to impressionist and soft. His paintings are a real marvel, and his ceramic work is every bit as good. Prices are, accordingly, astronomical…be prepared to drop half a years worth of mortgage payments for a decent one!

Itou Gekkou 16.5 x 14 x 4.1 cm Copyright Yorozuen

Fujikake Yuzan, 16.2 x 13 x 4.5 cm Copyright Yorozuen

The two most popular and well respected painters of the last 50 years, Yuzan and Gekkou. One need only glance through a Gafu album to see just how popular. Their styles are very similar, both with very clean lines, high details, and marvelous use of negative space. The ceramic work of both artists is also wonderful. I especially love the collaboration pieces between Itou Gekkou and his brother, Itou Tonyo.

Miyazaki Isseki, 12.5 x 9.9 x 3.5 cm Copyright Yorozuen

Isseki is another famous painter, whose strongest suits are the inclusion of highly detailed, hard to depict landscape features in his pots. Note the detail of the winding stream in this pot, it’s very well done. The Stream Is actually a dual role figure, also playing the role of negative space in the far view. The currents and eddys are very well painted, cooling me off in this crazy southern summer heat wave!

Bikoh pot, Shoseki Painting. 14.2 x 10.7 x 4.2 cm Copyright Yorozuen

Hanko and Rakkan of Bikoh and Shoseki

Shoseki is another famous contemporary painter, who sometimes does work for the Tokoname co-op. His landscapes and animal figure paintings are very nice…most of his work features scenes of children, I’m not a fan of those. An old tree in a pot painted with young children is just too much contrast for me to handle!
This particular pot is extra interesting, a collaboration piece between famous contemporary potter Horie Bikoh and Shoseki. You’ll most likely recognize the work of Bikoh as those smaller pots with medallion inlay glaze attachments featuring birds.

Heian Koso, 12.2 x 5.6 cm, and 11.2 x 4.8 cm Copyright Yorozuen

A virtually unknown potter and painter here in the west, Koso is probably one of the best buys going right now. A third the price of a Gekkou or Yuzan, and really nicely depicted scenes. I especially like his tree work, weeping trees are painted with grace and style.
His glazed pots are also very nice. All of his, publicly espoused influences come through in his pots, Yusen, Tofukuji, and Kouzan.

Haruyoshi, 10.7 x 9 x 3.4 cm Copyright Yorozuen

Another very popular contemporary potter, Hauyoshi is sure to one day join the ranks of the best. I especially like his 5 color paintings and his figure pots featuring birds.

Bizan, 13.2 x 10.3 x 3.6 cm Copyright Yorozuen

A nice dragon painted pot from Bizan. The style of Bizan is unique and easily identified, with muted blues and overall less bright coloration.

Miura Chikusen, 8.3 x 6.3 x 7.2 cm Copyright Yorozuen

I know next to nothing about Chikusen, except that I’ve seen very few of his pots in the books and from Japan. I love the softness of this painting pot however, the impressionistic blur of line is marvelous.

Tani Ranzan, 13.8 x 10.3 x 3.5 cm Copyright Yorozuen

Tani Ranzan is a contemporary potter whose painting work often reminds me of the work of Shoseki. His unglazed pots are spectacular as well, oft featuring basket carving and detail that I like as well as Bigei.

Hayashi Toujaku, 8 x 6.4 x 3.8 cm Copyright Yorozuen

Toujaku is famous for unglazed pots and small carvings, but his painted pots are nice as well.

Tarugen, 8.5 x 2 cm Copyright Yorozuen

Kutani Shiyou, 12.2 x 10.5 x 5.1 cm and 11.6 x 9.9 x 3.9 cm Copyright Yorozuen

There are many Kutani painters. The Kutani co-op is unique, in that a master potter makes the pot, which is then painted by a different artist.

Sensui Left: 7.6 x 3.9 cm x 8cm. Middle: 9.2 x 8.7 x 2.4 cm Right: 9.3 x 4.4 cm Copyright Yorozuen

The pots of Sensui feature old school geometrics, and unlike some of the potters shown here, are better for daily use. While the prices and quality of some of these pots may cause them to never see our benches, and make an appearance only for a show, the pots of Sensui are nicely painted and inexpensive.
I hope you enjoyed these pots as much as I enjoy sharing them. In the next post I look at the pottery of Watanabe Kazuhiro, better known as Ikkou.


About japanesepots

I've been collecting Japanese Bonsai pots for a few years, and feel that the famous, and some of the lesser known but great Japanese pot artists could do with a little more writing and exposure in English. Additionally, this blog will feature My own And others bonsai for discussion. The purpose of this blog is to further knowledge of Japanese pottery and Japanese style bonsai. If you have any questions about Japanese bonsai pottery, or would like to acquire pots by some of the potters presented in the blog, feel free to email me at gastrognome@aol.com
This entry was posted in Famous and Antique Potters, Modern Potters. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Famous Painters of Sometsuke

  1. Mark Wiesman says:

    There are currently five generations of Miura Chikusen. The first was active late meiji and taisho. I am fortunate enough to have a fine chawan by the first Chikusen and a koro by Dohachi ( his teacher ) that I got years ago from Kuroda Toen….

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