Gentleman Beholding the Moon

Nakabayashi Chikkei (Japanese, 1816-1867)

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Japanese painting is rich with images of Chinese scholar-sages. This might be the Tang dynasty poet Li Bai (701-762). The moon, along with wine and beautiful women, was among the most popular imagery for Chinese poetry, and a good example is Li Bai's poem "Drinking Alone by Moonlight." A free translation of its opening lines reads: "Among the flowers, a single jar of wine/ Having no companions I poured for myself/ I raised my cup and invited the bright moon/ To cast my shadow and make us three."

Using crisp, angular line work, Chikkei managed to deftly endow the figure and the rocks with volume and weight. The visual tension between the moon hanging in the sky and the figure's upraised hand energizes the composition.

Object Information

artist
Nakabayashi Chikkei (Japanese, 1816-1867)
period
Edo
creation date
1816-1867
materials
ink and color on silk
dimensions
81 1/4 x 27 1/2 in. (overall)
mark descriptions
Signed: Chikkei
Seal: Seigyo no in
Seal: azana Shofu
accession number
2001.12
credit line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alan J. Strassman
copyright
Public Domain
collection
Asian Art
colors

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