Meiji period (1866–1912)
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Image: 48 1/2 x 16 7/16 in. (123.2 x 41.8 cm)
Overall with mounting: 84 x 22 in. (213.4 x 55.9 cm)
Overall with knobs: 85 1/4 x 24 1/8 in. (216.5 x 61.3 cm)
Gift of Gitter-Yelen Foundation, in honor of John T. Carpenter, 2011
Not on view
A Chinese sage with a white beard and cap sits on a stool beneath a wizened pine, a scroll in his right hand and a staff of gnarled wood in his left. He is the Daoist immortal Shoulaoren, better known in Japanese popular culture as Jurōjin, who counted as one of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune. While Rinpa painting is typically associated with motifs and subjects derived from the Japanese literary canon, here, mottled ink (tarashikomi) is masterfully deployed to represent the landscape setting for a portrait of the legendary Chinese figure. Buddhist and Daoist subjects are commonly considered the territory of Kano-school painters, whose brushwork is characteristically angular. Here, the artist’s cheerful rounded forms give the esteemed immortal an entirely different sensibility. The scroll in the man’s right hand has various interpretations—by some accounts it records the life span of all living beings, while in others it catalogues their deeds, both good and bad. In some cases, the scroll is said to be a Buddhist scripture or a symbol of wisdom.