Kanō Tan'yū, Miscellaneous Subjects, a handscroll painting

Edo period, AD 1666

Kanō Tan'yū, was the first official painter to the Tokugawa Shogunate (1600-1868) and the foremost painter of his day. In this scroll he has brought together a number of scenes from a variety of genres. The scroll begins with a view of the West Lake, near Hangzhou in China, famed for the beauty of its scenery. Stretching across the water is the dyke, with its famous drum bridges, said to have been built when the poet Su Dongpou was prefect of the district. The hills and buildings surrounding the lake are painted in the formal shintai style of brushwork, with sharp, precise lines.

The scroll continues with another landscape, but this time employing the ‘informal' sōtai style of soft ink washes. There is then an abrupt change, to plants and insects done in 'semi-formal' gyōtai mode, followed by scenes of lucky gods, and a hunter. Finally comes the scene illustrated here of the demon-queller Shōki, sitting astride a Chinese mythological lion (Japanese: kara-jishi). This composite approach allowed Tan'yū to demonstrate to feudal patrons his mastery of a variety of subjects and styles within a single work.

The inscription at the end of the scroll reads 'Kambun rokunen shichigatsu nichi; Miyauchi Kei hōin gyōnen rokujūgo-sai hitsu' ('From the brush of Miyauchi Kei of hōin rank, aged 65, on a day in the seventh month, 1666'). The seals read 'Miyauchi Kei hōin' and 'Seimei' (one of Tan'yū's art-names).

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More information


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


Height: 317.000 mm
Length: 5879.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA JP ADD600 (1979.7-23.010)



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