Kawamura Bumpō, Chinese Scholars and Japanese Festival Scenes, a pair of handscroll paintings

Edo period, around AD 1810

Kawamura Bumpō (1779-1821) studied under Gan Ku (1747-1838), but he appears also to have been influenced by the softer style of the Maruyama-Shijō school of artists of his native Kyoto.

The small number of known paintings by Bumpō suggest that he had wide interests and a versatile talent. These are shown in the variety of subject matter within this pair of scrolls. The first scroll begins with figures resembling Chinese immortals in a setting of giant magic fungi. This leads on to scenes of calligraphy and drinking - one figure idly using a back-scratcher. Then a minor procession with a rider and cart ends up in a calligraphy, painting and poetry party (shogakai) with tea, wine and tobacco pipes. The figures are drawn in the wriggling line style reminiscent of Gan Ku, but the humorously drawn faces and the powerful feeling of enjoyment are unique to Bumpō himself. At the end of the scroll, Bumpō unexpectedly switches to an elegant, sketch-like style to depict autumn flowers and grasses such as arrowroot, morning glory, thoroughwort, bush clover, pinks, and valerian with three dragonflies in flight. This section is strongly Maruyama-Shijō in style. The first scroll finishes with the figure of Daikoku, the god of wealth, with his sack and a bale of rice.

The second scroll depicts Japanese-style figures at the Ox Festival at Uzumasa in Kyoto and scenes of daily life in city and countryside These include sumō wrestlers, a monkey-trainer, tea-whisk sellers, and farmers and fishermen at work. Again, the subject matter then changes to the natural word, with fruits on a branch, a pair of rabbits, a moonlit landscape, a snow scene, and finally the god Ebisu with fishing rod and a sea bream under his arm.

The signature on the first scroll reads 'Bumpō' and on the second scroll 'Bumpō Basei sha', and the seals on both scrolls read 'Bumpō', 'Basei' and Nanzanju'.

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More information


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

L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


Height: 298.000 mm (Chinese subjects)
Length: 10485.000 mm (Chinese subjects)
Height: 298.000 mm (Chinese subjects)
Length: 10485.000 mm (Chinese subjects)

Museum number

Asia JA JP ADD639 (1981.4-8.01);Asia JA JP ADD640 (1981.4-8.02)



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