Height: 1313.000 mm
Width: 720.000 mm
Gift of Sir W. Gwynne-Evans, Bt.
Asia JP 2290 (1913.5-1.0585)
Shimomura Kanzan, Diogenes, a hanging scroll painting
Meiji era, AD 1903-5
An aged man in a white robe, with white hair and beard, sits clasping his knees, lost in thought. Above him can be seen the rim of the barrel in which he sits. This is the Greek philosopher Diogenes (about 400-325 BC), nicknamed 'the mad Socrates' for his eccentric behaviour, such as making his home in a tub. The painting is done mainly in ink, with only touches of colour, true to the Japanese ink painting tradition. The face, however, is more Western in its features.
(1873-1930) came to London in 1903 to study watercolour technique
for two years, one of the few
Kanzan's teacher in Japan, Kanō Hōgai (1828-88), had used a Western-style image of Hippocrates as the basis for a painting of the Buddhist figure Bodhidharma (Japanese: Daruma). Kanzan's work reverses this, using a Japanese technique for a European subject. It epitomises the complex cross-fertilization of ideas between Japan and the West that was occurring in the Meiji era (1868-1912).
The signature reads 'Kanzan' and the seal 'Soshin'.
I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan-2, vol. 3 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1993)