Portrait of Sugawara Michizane

Portrait of Sugawara Michizane

late 1400s to early 1500s

Yōgetsu

(Japanese, active late 1400s to early 1500s)

Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper

Painting: 100.8 x 50.2 cm (39 11/16 x 19 3/4 in.); Mounted: 189.2 x 65.2 cm (74 1/2 x 25 11/16 in.)

Gift from the Collection of George Gund III 2015.491

Description

Sugawara Michizane (845–903) was a Kyoto aristocrat who died in exile in Dazaifu in Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, having been slandered at court. His vengeful spirit was later pacified by the construction of shrines in his name. His image was incorporated into the repertoire of Zen Buddhist figure painting, which included bodhisattvas, Daoist immortals, and other enlightened beings. Eminent monk Sakugen Shūryō (1501–1579) inscribed this work, which was painted by monk-painter Yōgetsu of Kyushu, who traveled east to study either in Kyoto or Kamakura. The Chinese-style poem is an ode to Michizane in his guise as the deity Tenjin.

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