Tani Bunchō, Earthly Paradise of Wuling, a handscroll painting

Japan
Edo period, AD 1780s

This scroll tells the story of the Earthly Paradise of Wuling, commonly known as 'Peach Blossom Spring'. A fisherman discovers an earthly paradise where people live far away from the everyday world, in ignorance of its troubles. It is clear that any attempt to rediscover this paradise will be in vain.

Tani Bunchō (1763-1840) has copied an older scroll by the Chinese Ming dynasty painter Qiu Ying (about 1494-1552). A version of this subject by the Chinese artist in fact survives in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Qiu Ying developed his own work by copying paintings of the Tang dynasty (618-906) and Song dynasty (960-1278), and he often portrays beautiful women standing in brilliant green and blue landscapes. Parts of Bunchomacr;'s work are very close to the original, for example the scene in which the fisherman leaves his boat and enters a cave. Nonetheless, he develops a green and blue style that is more decorative than the Chinese originals, a style in which the pink of the peach blossoms stands out more conspicuously.

At the end of the scroll Bunchō first copies the signature of the Chinese artist: 'Qiu Ying Shifu hua' and his seal 'Shizhou'. He then adds his own seal, 'Tani Bunchō motō in' ('seal of Tani Bunchō, making a copy').

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More information

Bibliography

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

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

Dimensions

Height: 246.000 mm
Length: 5029.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA JP ADD608 (1980.2-25.04)

JCF7663

Location

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