Sotatsu school, 17th century
hanging scroll, ink on paper with one seal Inen
painting: 44 by 19 in., 111.76 by 48.26 cm
overall: 77 1/2 by 24 5/8 in., 197 by 62.6 cm
This painting is from a set of twelve previously mounted on a pair of six-panel screens. Each painting in the original group bears the circular Inen seal used by Tawaraya Sotatsu (f. ca. 1600-1640) as well as his disciples. As it is known that Sotatsu began to sign his works after receiving the title of Hokkyo later in his life, it seems appropriate to attribute the painting to Sotasu School. However, there is still a possibility that they were actually done by Sotatsu himself.
As Professor Yamane Yuzo explains in the introduction to volume 1 of Painting of Rimpa, (where these paintings are also published), distinguishing between the work of Sotatsu and his disciples is not readily determined. As such, in the first and second volumes of the series, Yamane presents the work of Sotatsu and Sotatsu School intermixed: "No doubt it would be better to devote one volume to Sotatsu, and the other volume to Sotatsu's followers, but so little is known of them, beyond the two names of Sotatsu (Tawaraya), pupil of Sotatsu, and Sosetsu (Kitagawa) and so many of these anonymous disciples seem to have collaborated with Sotatsu that no distinct line can be drawn." (Yanamne Yuzo, Paintings of Rimpa, vol 1, 1977, Nihonkeizan Shinbun). In spite of the popularity of the Rimpa school artist Sotatsu, to whom a large number of paintings are attributed, he still remains as an elusive figure.
Tekkai Sennin is a figure adopted from Chinese mythology where he was known as Li T'ieh Kwai Sien Sheng. He was one of the eight chief immortals of Taoist lore, depicted as a man of beggarly appearance and often repulsive face, blowing his spirit into space in the form of a miniature figure riding on a staff.
Yamane Yuzo, Paintings of Rinpa, Vol. I, Nihonkeizan Shinbun, 197
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