Kano Masanobu (c. 1434-1530), the founder of the Kano school, was a member of a minor samurai family. Both he and his father served as painters to the Ashikaga shogun Yoshimasa (1436-1490). The rise of the Kano school, however, is generally attributed to the artistic and organizational genius of Masanobu's grandson Motonobu (1476-1559), one of the most influential painters in 16th-century Japan. Motonobu developed a distinctive style of large-scale painting well suited to the increasing demand for large interior decoration schemes, and created a workshop system that could meet the demands of a growing, wealthy clientele. This combination was continued by Motonobu's son Eitoku (1543-1590), and creative variations and reinterpretations of compositional types and motifs invented by these two masters remained the hallmark of the Kano school for centuries.
The continuing influence of Kano Motonobu is illustrated in this pair of mid- to late 16th-century folding screens depicting a landscape of the four seasons. Reading from right to left, various scenes show changes in foliage and atmosphere from spring to winter. In the opening scene, a scholar-gentleman and his attendant walk along a mountain path that winds behind hills in the foreground. Their destination m