- Museum number
Painting, two-panel tea screen (furosaki byobu). Nine old men gathered at Xiang-shan, the mountain retreat of Tang-dynasty poet Bai Juyi; old men seated in garden passing time in calligraphy and music; aged Bai Juyi at far right with servant-boy at his side; one man sleeping leaning on tea table at far left. Ink, colour and gold on silk. Signed, dated and sealed.
- Production date
- 1783 (4/5th month)
Height: 23.80 centimetres (each panel)
Height: 34 centimetres (mount)
Width: 72.10 centimetres (each panel)
Width: 153 centimetres (mount)
- Curator's comments
The scene is the retreat on Mt. Xiang of the Tang poet Bo Juyi (772-846) where nine aged scholars are engaged in elegant pursuits such as calligraphy, music and conversation. One man on the far left dozes next to a table set with the utensils of sencha tea: a small screen of this shape would have been used as a sencha accessory. (Label copy, TTC 2001)
Reproduced in Kyoto Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan (ed.), 'Nihonjin to cha: Sono rekishi, sono bi-ishiki' (2002), no. 175.
Hizo Nihon bijutsu taikan Vol 1
This work shows nine old men who have gathered at the mountain retreat of the well-known Tang poet Po Chu-i, located to the east of Lung-men on the outskirts Loyang. The old men are seated in the garden amidst furniture and oddly shaped rocks, passing the time in elegant pursuits as they leave behind their worldly cares. At the extreme right, with his servant-boy at his side, is the aged and dignified host, Po Chu-i. Works depicting these nine old men are traditionally considered auspicious and are associated with respect for the aged. It is likely that this particular painting was commissioned to commemorate someone's sixtieth or seventieth birthday, since in Japan these occasions are celebrated passages in a person's life.
Maruyama Okyo (1733-95) first introduced a new type of "realism" known as 'shasei', or "drawing from life," to art circles is Kyoto. Okyo's painting had an entirely new dimension of realism, and its decorative flourishes and refined technique made it popular, especially with affluent merchants and landowners in the Kinki area. His disciples included some of the most talented artists of the age, and his new realism became a dominate force in contemporary painting.
Okyo's elegant painting from life, especially his landscapes and flower-and-birds, certainly were very attractive, and yet his ability to handle the human form was not entirely satisfying. For example, the various (young and old, male and female) nudes that populate the 'Human Figures' scroll (now in the Tenri Library), are not entirely successful. And when he drew human figures clothed, Okyo first meticulously delineated the naked forms beneath, to make sure that he had the bone structure correct, then superimposed the clothing. While his forms are varied in terms of posture and expression, they are also overly objective and somehow static. They lack a vivid presence.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2001, 30 Jan-8 Apr, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Arts of Japan: Recently repaired paintings, Ukiyo-e IV'
2002, 7 Sep-14 Oct, Kyoto National Museum, 'Nihonjin to cha'
2018 Oct-2019 Apr, BM Mitsubishi Corporation Japanese Galleries
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Nine Old Men of Xiang Shan (香山九老)
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.Add.892 (Japanese Painting Additional Number)