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Kano Isen’in 狩野伊川院

“Cranes after Wen Cheng” 倣文成鶴圖

Pair of hanging scrolls, ink and color on silk
Each 117.0 x 52.5 cm. (46 x 30 5/8 in.)

Inscription: “Painted by the hoin Isen’in.”

Artist’s seals: Isen’in; Gensho Eishin

In his inscription the artist notes that this pair of paintings was done after the Chinese painter Wen Cheng. Those paintings are today in a temple in Kyoto, the Shōkoku-ji, and according to temple records the pair was brought from China by the sixth abbot of the temple who died in 1405, and later in the century hung in honor of the visiting Shogun. The paintings thus became relatively famous in Japan and influenced many artists who either saw them in person in the temple or who saw woodblock reproductions of the pair. Since the woodblock illustration omits the moon present in one of the original paintings, it is clear that Kano had been able to see and study the actual paintings.

Kano Isen’in served the shogunate, rose in rank over the years, and in 1816 reached the highest rank, hōin, “seal of the law,” and in the same year adopted the name Isen’in, after which, then, the present work was created.

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