Gan Ku, One Hundred Old Men, a pair of 6-fold screen paintings

Edo period, AD 1802

'One Hundred Old Men' is a standard theme taken from the Chinese painting tradition. In a landscape of mountains, trees, and a lake, elderly gentlemen engage in scholarly pursuits - on the right screen some are gathered round a scroll to appreciate the calligraphy being executed. On the left screen a group is seated at a table to enjoy wine and tea, and others in a large group are conducting a Daoist ceremony outside the grotto of an ascetic. This was the intellectual ideal adopted from China during the Edo period (1600-1868) - a scholarly idyll far away from everyday life. Gan Ku's skill is demonstrated in the varied and expressive brushwork, which would have been readily appreciated by scholarly patrons.

The deer on the left screen, the two cranes on top of a tree in the right screen, and the pine trees throughout the composition are all auspicious symbols of longevity. This theme of celebrating advanced age suggests that these sumptuous screens with high-quality gold leaf may have been produced for Taikin Kō, the man mentioned in the inscription, perhaps on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday (seen in Japan as a particularly significant milestone in life).

The signature on the right screen reads 'Kotōkan Gan Ku'. The inscription on the left screen reads 'Kyōwa mizunoe inu haru / tame [.....] sha / Gan Ku' ('Painted for [.....] in the spring of 1802 by Gan Ku'). The seals on both screens read 'Kakan' and 'Gan Ku'. The name of the patron, inscribed on the left screen, has not yet been deciphered.

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Gan Ku, One Hundred Old Men, a pair of 6-fold screen paintings

Right-hand screen

  • Left-hand screen

    Left-hand screen


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Height: 1500.000 mm (each approx.)
Width: 3550.000 mm (each approx.)

Museum number

Asia JA JP ADD1043 (1994.4-11.01)



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