- Museum number
Painting, hanging scroll, mitate-e. Parody of the Seven Sages: women and children in bamboo grove beside winding stream; young man kneeling to dig up bamboo shoot; boy running off to left brandishing one of shoots; his younger brother held back from scampering after him by one of women; at rear two women discussing contents of letter. Ink, colour and gold on silk. Sealed.
- Production date
Height: 53.50 centimetres
Width: 70.90 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Clark 1992
The scene is a bamboo grove beside a winding stream. As a young man kneels to dig up a bamboo shoot, a boy runs off to the left brandishing one of the shoots, and his younger brother is held back from scampering after him by one of the women. At the rear two women discuss the contents of a letter. The odd setting signals that this is parody ('mitate') treatment.
'The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove' ('Chikurin no shichi ken') was a popular subject for Kano school and 'bunjin' (scholar) ink painters. It relates to the legend that in the Jin dynasty (AD 265-419) in China seven wise men would meet regularly in a bamboo forest to drink wine, play musical instruments and engage in conversation, as a protest against the corruption of society. Ukiyo-e re workings of this subject generally show a group of courtesans in place of the seven wise men, and there are colour prints by Toyonobu and Harunobu, among others, showing the women grouped around a long scroll they are studying.
Judging by the hairstyles, the present painting follows shortly after the printed versions by Toyonobu and Harunobu, at the end of the Meiwa (1764-72) or beginning of the An'ei (1772-81) eras. A seal, which may be that of the artist, is just visible in the bottom left corner of the painting but is too faint to decipher. The artist displays considerable skill in suggesting the way the misty landscape recedes into space and depicting the lively actions of the children, and he should be considered an important minor artist of the generation immediately following the death of Harunobu in 1770. Another anonymous painting of a similar subject, though in a somewhat different style, is in the collection of the Azabu Museum of Arts and Crafts, Tokyo ('Azabu Bijutsukan dayori', 12 (May 1985), cover illustration).
'(Hizo) Ukiyo-e taikan' ('Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections'), ed. Narazaki Muneshige. Vol. 1, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987, no. 115.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.Add.145 (Japanese Painting Additional Number)