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Chinese Literary Gathering

Ikeda Koson Japanese

Not on view

The artist has created a fanciful depiction of a Chinese literary gathering set outdoors on a garden terrace, presided over by a scholar in formal robe and cap. He holds a calligraphy brush, and on the table before him are the other implements needed to write the poem or literary text. Behind him is a freestanding screen with a scene of geese descending and an (illegible) inscription. A companion nearby examines a hanging scroll of an ink landscape.

This painting appears to be derived and adapted from figure groups and motifs included in a set of four paintings on the theme of the Four Accomplishments attributed to the Yuan master Ren Renfa (1255–1328), now in the collection of Tokyo National Museum. Since only the arts of calligraphy and painting are represented here, we may assume that this work is part of a diptych, with the other work representing the pursuits of zither playing and board games.

The artist Koson is best known as a pupil of the Edo Rinpa master Sakai Hōitsu (1761–1828), yet he worked in a range of styles, and occasionally created works based on traditional Chinese themes, as seen here. Records indicate that Koson was something of an eccentric recluse and an ardent aficionado of the tea ceremony and poetry. Therefore, the artist no doubt identified with the enjoyment of literary and artistic pursuits represented in this painting.

Chinese Literary Gathering, Ikeda Koson (Japanese, 1803–1868), Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk, Japan

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