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Maruyama Ōkyo is one of the giants of Edo-period painting. The son of an impoverished farmer, he was largely self-taught, but he apparently had access to Chinese painting and imported prints with Western perspective. He was one of the first Japanese painters to make extensive sketches from nature, a practice his students emulated.
Ōkyo’s mature style tempers the realism of close observation with a flair for bold compositions. He became spectacularly successful, winning major commissions from the imperial household as well as Kyoto’s leading merchant families. Ōkyo’s followers, known as the shasei (drawing from life) school, would dominate Kyoto painting circles well into the twentieth century.