School of Tawaraya Sotatsu
Japan Edo period 17th century
Little is known about Sotatsu in his early years and nothing is known of his family background or his initial training as an artist. What is known, however, is that Sotatsu owned and operated a shop in Kyoto known as Tawaraya, where he produced and sold such items as fans, dolls, shikishi (poem slips), and screens.
It is generally accepted that Sotatsu´s career started around the end of the sixteenth century when he began to work with Honami Koetsu (1558-1637), his cousin by marriage. This partnership proved to be a very successful one and the work they produced which was predominantly in shikishi and scroll format was held in high regard by their patrons – the courtiers of the day – who sought to preserve and revive the courtly arts and values of the Heian period.
After about 1602 Sotatsu moved away from small-scale designs on paper and began his career as an independent painter and was the first member of the merchant class to be awarded the honorary title of Hokkyo at 1620 approximately.