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Early Modern Painting

Seven Sages in a Bamboo Grove

  • by Unkoku Togan
  • Sixteen panels, ink on paper
  • Proportions: 180.0 x 141.5 cm (each)
  • Momoyama Period (16th Century)
  • Important Cultural Property
  • (Obai-in Temple, Kyoto)

This set of sliding door panals is believed to have been painted inside Obai-in Temple, one of the sub-temples of the large Zen temple in Kyoto. The main subject of the work is the seven sages and their youthful attendents, surrounded by a minimal amount of trees and rocks. The composition incorporates simplicity in its ample use of blank space.

The height of the figures, often over a meter in height, shows the infuence of Eitoku's large compositions. On the other hand, the hunchbacked figures with their forward jutting chins are unique to Togan.

There are varoius theories as to the date of this work, but it is certain that this is one of the earlier of the Togan paintings extant today.

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