Gessen, Landscapes with Figures, a handscroll painting

Mid-Edo period, late 18th - early 19th century AD

This scroll contains a series of landscapes, each accompanied by Chinese verses. In the section illustrated two figures approach a group of trees, with a low pavilion beyond; two boats are visible on the waters of a lake beneath the mountains. The landscape is painted in soft washes of black ink and red ochre, giving the scene an air of quiet serenity.

Gessen (1741-1809) entered the Buddhist priesthood at the age of ten, and while resident in Kyoto was instructed in painting by both Maruyama ōkyo (1733-95) and Yosa Buson (1716-83), two of the leading painters of the day. He also studied earlier Chinese paintings, and came to specialize in the bunjin (literati) style, which expressed a longing for escape from the mundane, everyday world into an idealised landscape of the mind. A scroll like this would have been kept in a scholarly gentleman's study, and unrolled from time to time for contemplation or intimate display to like-minded friends. Gessen spent most of his time producing large numbers of these scrolls, the proceeds from which he spent on improving his temple, Jakushō-ji at Ise-Yamada, with a library and a road.

Each section of the scroll bears a pair of seals reading, variously, 'Jakushō, Gessen', 'Gessen, Genzui', and 'Gessen, Shōzan'.

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More information


I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan-1, vol. 2 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1992)


Height: 272.000 mm
Length: 6465.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA JP ADD589 (1979.4-9.01)



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