Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Bean Vine

Artist:
Itō Jakuchū (Japanese, 1716–1800)
Calligrapher:
Inscribed by Tangai Jōgi (Japanese, 1693–1764)
Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
18th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Dimensions:
Image: 49 1/2 x 18 7/8 in. (125.7 x 47.9 cm) Overall with mounting: 75 5/8 x 24 1/4 in. (192.1 x 61.6 cm) Overall with knobs: 75 5/8 x 26 1/2 in. (192.1 x 67.3 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lita Annenberg Hazen Charitable Trust Gift, in honor of Cynthia and Leon Polsky, 1985
Accession Number:
1985.97
Not on view
Jakuchū, son of a greengrocer, used vegetables and plants as a personal iconography that almost always included a moral or religious meaning. This handsome sketch of a bean plant, paired with a poem by an obaku Zen priest, Tangai Jōgi, explicitly refers to a story about the Chinese poet Cao Zhi (192–232) whose tyrannical brother, Cao Pi (Emperor Wen), once commanded him to compose a poem before he took seven steps, threatening him with execution if he failed. Cao Zhi composed the following verse, which deeply shamed the emperor:

Beans boiled to make a soup,
Peas puréed to make the base.
Beanstalks blaze beneath the pot,
While in the pot the bean sheds tears:
"We both were born from the same
roots—
How quick you are to burn me!"

(Stephen Owen, trans., An Anthology of
Chinese Literature [New York: Norton, 1966],
p. 307)
Inscription: Cursive calligraphy by Tangai, an eminent monk of the Obaku Zen sect completments the direct, effortless description of the bean vine.
Johnson Gallery, Middlebury College. "Spirit and Nature: Visions of Interdependence," September 9, 1990–November 4, 1990.

Poughkeepsie. Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College. "Loan for class study (Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center - Vassar College)," January 1, 1995–June 16, 1998.

Kyoto National Museum. "Jakuchū!: Special exhibition, 200th Anniversary of Jakuchū's Death," October 24, 2000–November 26, 2000.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Enlightening Pursuits," February 28, 2001–August 5, 2001.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Animals, Birds, Insects, and Marine Life in Japanese Art," June 26, 2008–November 30, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Poetry of Nature in Japanese Art: Edo Period Paintings from the Fishbein-Bender Collection," February 27, 2018–January 27, 2019.

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