Collaborative Painting of Sixteen Arhats

Various artists/makers

Not on view

For this collaboration, sixteen artists depicted one each of the Sixteen Arhats (Japanese: Jūroku Rakan), a group of Buddhist saints who reject all worldly passions and exist in various realms of the Buddhist world in order to promulgate the so-called Just Law—the true teachings of the Buddha, which are inherently prone to degeneration over time.

The sixteen artists were all key players in painting circles in the city of Kyoto in the 1880s. They include major figues like Mori Kansai, who, after the death of the leading painter Shiokawa Bunrin (1808–1877), stood at the center of Kyoto painting circles as the head of the Kyoto painting group Jounsha, many of whose members can also be found among the collaborators. The late Bunrin’s own son, Ichidō, painted the partially hidden figure in profile at middle left. Another particularly important collaborator on this work, and along with Mori Kansai the oldest of the group, is Tanomura Chokunyū. Chokunyū was a leading figure of the literati painting movement, which is also well represented in this work. A number of the painters are associated with the naturalistic painting style of the Shijō School. Nearly all the painters whose names and pictures appear on this work were at one time or another after its founding in 1880 affiliated with the Kyoto Prefectural School of Painting (Kyōto-fu Ga-gakkō), Japan’s first ever art educational institution. In addition to one of its founders, Kōno Bairei, well over half of the artist’s represented in this work are known to have taught at the school in the 1880s.

Collaborative Painting of Sixteen Arhats, Suzuki Hyakunen 鈴木百年 (Japanese, 1825–1891), Hanging scroll; ink and color on satin, Japan

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