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Nukina Kaioku, Landscape, a hanging scroll painting


Height: 1325.000 mm
Width: 310.000 mm

Brooke Sewell Fund

Asia JA JP ADD396 (1968.10-14.01)

    Nukina Kaioku, Landscape, a hanging scroll painting

    Edo period, dated AD 1838

    Nukina Kaioku (1778-1863) was an archetypal bunjin (scholar-artist) of the late Edo period (1600-1868). He was a teacher of Chinese Confucian studies at the Shuseidō Academy that he founded in Kyoto and a highly accomplished poet, calligrapher and painter in the Chinese literati style.

    A solitary scholar sits at the window of a mountain retreat and looks out onto the river that winds down the scroll towards us. The composition and execution are perfectly balanced and controlled, emulating the style of the Songjiang (Japanese: Shōkō) School painters of the Chinese Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Every aspect of the work reflects Kaioku's confidence in the superiority of Chinese culture, and the pair of five-character couplets inscribed above the scene is likely to be a quotation from a classical source. The inscription can be translated:

    'Seated peacefully in the bamboo grove
    When the rustling breeze arrives
    I forget my hectic life at court
    Play the lute and compose verse.'

    A further inscription next to the signature translates 'This was done in the 10th month, 1837 at Sumoto, while the guest of skilled doctor Yamamoto'. The exact identity of Dr Yamamoto is not known. Sumoto is located on the island of Awaji-shima (modern Hyōgo Prefecture).

    The signature reads 'Kaikyaku', an alternative art-name (betsugō) used by the artist. The seal under the signature reads 'Nukina Shigeru in' ('Seal of Nukina Shigeru') and the seal to the right of the inscription reads 'Zōteki'.

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