Tanuki under a Bridge

Suzuki Shōnen 鈴木松年 (Japanese, 1848-1918)

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Expertly employing various tones of ink, Shōnen has recreated the heavy, moist atmosphere of a rainy summer’s night. The only pigments are tiny bits of orange and silver for the twinkling firefly that has captured the tanuki’s attention, and the gold highlighting his eyes.

Although sometimes called a badger in English, the tanuki more closely resembles the North American raccoon. In Japanese folklore, the tanuki is often coupled with the fox as wily animals possessing supernatural powers. Both mischievously bedevil humans through their ability to shape-shift, although the tanuki’s tricks are more playful than harmful.

Erik Thomsen (Erik Thomsen Asian Art) (1); purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2006.
(1) According to Erik Thomsen, the screen was purchased many years ago when he lived in Japan and before he became an art dealer.

Object Information

Suzuki Shōnen 鈴木松年 (Japanese, 1848-1918)
creation date
about 1900
ink on silk with some orange, gold, and silver
62 x 70-3/4 x 3/4 in. (frame)
mark descriptions
Signed: Shōnen hitsu
Intaglio seal in shape of sake bottle with character: "Shō" legible
accession number
credit line
Purchased with funds provided by Penny Weldon
Public Domain
Asian Art

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