Herd Boy with Ox

Attributed to Kano Masanobu 狩野正信 Japanese

Not on view

The bucolic scene of a herd-boy mounted on a water buffalo together making their way past rice paddies across a shallow river evokes a universally understood sense of harmony with nature while simultaneously sparking multiple associations in the context of early Japanese ink painting. While an affinity to didactic Zen Buddhist parables such as the Ten Ox‑Herding Songs is obvious, the image of an ox and ox‑herd was also emblematic of spring and agriculture, and enjoyed a long history in secular landscape painting in both China and Japan. This painting, in ink on a gilded fan, was probably based on a similar composition in a round fan-shaped painting by the thirteenth-century Chinese court painter Xia Gui, whose works were treasured in prominent Japanese collections of the fifteenth century.

Herd Boy with Ox, Attributed to Kano Masanobu 狩野正信 (Japanese, ca. 1434–ca. 1530), Folding fan mounted as a hanging scroll; ink and gold on paper, Japan

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