Hara Zaichū, Chinese Sages at Wuyu, a hanging scroll painting

Japan
Edo period, AD 1837

The inscription above this landscape is a quote from the Analects of the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 BC). A pupil relates his desire to journey to Wuyu on a spring day with a group of youths and children, to relax, and then to compose verses on the way home. Here a group of cultivated men engage in conversation beneath plum-trees in full bloom, while boy attendants prepare tea for them. Other men are on the river, and more distant figures are fishing from a bridge.

Zaichū (1750-1837), like many painters of the period, began by studying Kanō-school techniques, under Ishida Yūtei (1721-86). The school's influence can be seen here in the grassy rock forms. He went on to be instructed by Yūtei's most famous pupil, Maruyama ōkyo (1733-95), whose naturalistic techniques he absorbed and used here for the trees and water. Despite Zaichū's advanced age when this work was painted, the brushwork is sure, and the gentle colour tones effectively convey the mood of a peaceful spring day.

The signature in the bottom-right corner reads 'Hachijūhachi-ō Hara Zaichū ga hei dai' ('Painted and inscribed by Hara Zaichū, old man of 88' [87 by Western reckoning]) and the seals beside read 'Hara Chien in' and 'Shichō'.

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More information

Bibliography

I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan-2, vol. 3 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1993)

Dimensions

Height: 561.000 mm
Width: 1032.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA JP 2551 (1913.5-1.0619)

JCF5409

Arthur Morrison Collection
Gift of Sir W. Gwynne-Evans, Bt.

Location

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