The Immortal Jurojin
H. 107.7 cm, W. 43.6 cm
was a Zen priest of the late Muromachi period (1333-1573), who went to Ming-dynasty
(1368-1644) China in the first year of the Onin era (1467) to study painting.
His powerful, tense brush style and highly constructed composition is a masterpiece
of early Japanese ink painting, which later greatly influenced the various schools
of Chinese-style ink painting (J., kanga) in Japan. The background of the
immortal Jurojin and his white deer is executed in a light ink wash, while his
nimbus is delineated by the uncolored white paper. The deer's body and the immortal's
robe, in harmony with the luminous nimbus, become one forming concentric circles.
This hanging scroll was originally part of a triptych that belonged to the Kuroda
clan, lords of Chikuzen Province (present-day Fukuoka Prefecture). The two accompanying
paintings of landscapes are today in the collection of the University of Michigan.
In addition to these works, the Kuroda clan had also owned Landscape of the Four
Seasons, which is attributed to Sesshu and designated an Important Cultural Property,
suggesting that Sesshu, who is thought to have gone to and from China via Fukuoka,
may have produced these works in this area.|