Tigers Crossing a River

After Maruyama Ōkyo (1733-1795)

Six-panel Screen with Tigers Crossing a River after Maruyama Ōkyo (1733-1795)
Photo: Alain Duprat
Inv. Nr. #22.007
Date 19th Century
Material Ink and light colors on paper
Dimensions H 171 x W 382 cm

Signed and sealed by unknown Kyōto artist.

Beautiful six-panel screen with a depiction of three tigers crossing a river. In East Asian belief, the tiger is considered to be brave, strong and fearless but at the same time tends to be impetuous and irritable. These characteristics are well expressed in East Asian renditions. On this screen, a male tiger is fearlessly carrying his cub through a roaring river while another one, possibly the female one, indicated by a black speckled fur, sits already on the shore trying to dry herself.

 

The whole composition as well as the postures and facial expressions of the tigers can be traced back to a layout originally created by Maruyama Ōkyo (1733-1795). For instance, the image created here, can directly be compared with one of his famous tiger screens in the collection of the British Museum.

Ōkyo was one of the most influential painters of his generation and has clearly shaped the history of Japanese painting, even generation after him. It is assumed that he was already supported by many student painters in his large workshop during his lifetime, so it seems just natural that many painters in Japan adapted his popular style. This screen can be located in his tradition. It is, however, a later work from the 19th century by an unknown but, nevertheless, not lesser skilled Kyōto painter who was following the footsteps of a legend.