Sennin with Crane


Sennin with Crane
Print   (Part of the set: Akashi-ban Surimono)



Print is Public Domain; Photography is:   Creative Commons License


In this print we see an old painting surrounded by an elegant mounting, making it into a scroll for display. In the painting there is an old man and a peacock, both looking like they have been painted in black ink in the nanga style. White is used to suggest damage and loss to the old painting from wormholing or age (as we can see on the neck and feathers of the peacock). Of course these white sections are not actually pigments applied to the print - they are sections left un-printed - the white colour we see is the colour of the paper.

There is a lot of information in this print, which, surprisingly, actually makes it a little more difficult to work out what exactly the print depicts. What seems probable is that Hiroshige, whose name appears on the right, has designed this print, and has included in it a copy of a painting by another artist as a hanging scroll. From the box accompanying the scroll we can see that the scroll is double the usual width and depicts a sennin (a mountain hermit or wizard). The painted image is obviously very old, hence the inclusion of the wormholing, while the luxurious scroll mounting featuring auspicious colours and patterns appears quite new. This suggests that the painting is special in some way to have warranted an expensive mounting - maybe it was painted by a great artist. The name accompanying the poem at the left side of the print reads Kakutei Chiyozumi, but it is unknown who this may have been (there was a famous Japanese artist called Kakutei active in the 18th century - perhaps there is a link here?).

Karazuri blind-embossing has been used to emulate the wood grain in the scroll box, but the highlight of the print is nevertheless the attention to detail to the damage in the old painting - the delicate wormholes and losses left in to bring authenticity to the piece.

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