The Momoyama Period (1573-1615) artist Kaiho Yusho (1533-1615) was renowned among the elite painters of his time, and still is. More remarkable, however, is that fame came when he was in his 60s during what is called his “early” period. Over the following two decades, he went from painting for priests to creating works for nobility, then for Japan-Korea diplomacy and then the Emperor.
Much in Kaiho’s biography, however, is threadbare in detail. He was born to a high-ranking samurai family from Omi Province (now Shiga Prefecture) and his early life was spent as a Zen acolyte in Kyoto’s Tofukuji Temple. His brother’s deaths by troops under warlord Oda Nobunaga pushed him in an artistic direction. Surviving works from his later 50s or early 60s are unsigned and un-sealed, though painted in the period’s de facto tutelage style of the Kano school. His authorship has been assigned based on his distinctive portrayals of rock plateaus and pine needles.