Kanō Josen Chikanobu, a handscroll painting of Giga (Comic Pictures)

Japan
Edo period, late 17th - early 18th century AD

These scenes come from a handscroll of comic pictures, a popular subject in itself, but unusual for an artist of the Kanō school. In one, a demon has been surprised by Raijin, the Thunder God, and flees in fear. Raijin can be identified by the ring of drums which he beats to sound like thunder. In the other, warriors on horseback represent the battle at the Uji River. The rest of the scroll is taken up with other, similar scenes taken from Chinese and Japanese classics, parodied in amusing ways.

Although the pictures are charmingly done, the technical skill demonstrated in the scroll is not exceptional. There seems to be no logical connection between the different scenes - it is not a narrative sequence - and this suggests it was intended as a model for other artists to copy, as practice. Kanō Tan'yū (1602-74) did produce a scroll of giga, and such humorous treatment can be found occasionally in certain other Kanō school works, but it remains unusual, which makes this work all the more interesting.

Chikanobu (1660-1728) was the third generation head of the Kobiki-chō branch of the Kanō school in Edo (modern Tokyo), and in 1719 was awarded the highest court title, hōgen ('Eye of the Law'). The signature reads 'Chikanobu hitsu' ('Painted by Chikanobu') and the seal reads 'Josensai'.

Find in the collection online

More information

Bibliography

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

Dimensions

Height: 312.000 mm
Length: 5091.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA JP 657 (1902.6-6.012)

JCF2667

Bequeathed by Sir A.W. Franks

Location

Find in the collection online



Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore