Katagiri Ranseki, A sage pointing at the moon, a painting

Edo period, AD 1817

From an album of works by calligraphers and painters of Edo

This painting is from an album of 48 works by 48 painters and calligraphers active in Edo (modern Tokyo) in the early nineteenth century. There are 24 paintings and 24 sheets of calligraphy, and the dates, where given, are all from the autumn of 1817. The name of the person who assembled the album is not recorded.

In the second half of the Edo period, especially during the Bunka era (1804-18) and the Bunsei era (1818-30), there was a fashion for emulating the sophisticated tastes of the bunjin (literati). Wealthy admirers would ask well-known artists and calligraphers for examples of their work, which they collected in albums or mounted on folding screens for contemplation at their leisure. Calligraphy and painting parties (shogakai) became increasingly popular, where a paying audience could watch artists work, and request pieces for a fee.

This album contains only works in the literati style, which dominated the shogakai. The influence of Tani Bunchō (1763-1840) is strong, with many works by his pupils and followers. Other major artists and calligraphers represented include Bunchō's teacher, Watanabe Gentai (1749-1822), Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1828), Kita Busei (1776-1856), Ichikawa Kansai (1749-1820), and Kameda Bōsai (1752-1826). There are also a number of otherwise unknown names, apparently amateurs who took the opportunity to show off their talents.

The painting illustrated here is of a jovial sage pointing at the moon. The artist is Katagiri Ranseki (1764-1824), who had studied under Gentai. Both the signature and the seal read 'Tōin'.

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More information


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


Height: 286.000 mm
Width: 328.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA JP ADD518 (1973.2-26.0106.1)


Brooke Sewell Fund


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