(Late Edo?). Stock ID #157026
Two charming humorous coloured ink and watercolour paintings depicting an "ink war" on two joined sheets presented as a handscroll, 38.5 x 164cm. Handscroll extended including decorative silk borders and wooden rollers 38.5 x 210cm. Light damp stain approximately 4 x 4.5cm in three places along upper edge, occasional light soiling but otherwise good. This delightful handscroll depicting two groups of Japanese aristocrats very actively fighting against each other reflects a Japanese comic tradition of painting that goes back over a thousand years. The images show the aristocrats splashing ink at each other with long-handled brushes. One even uses a rather ingenious ink pump to propel the ink some distance directly into the face of his "enemy"! Full of energy and humour this is a delightful piece.
As mentioned above the "ink wars" paintings have a long history in Japan. The most notable example is the Chōjū jinbutsu giga 鳥獣人物戯画 [Caricatures of Frolic Birds, Animals, and humans] scroll painted in the 12th century and now in the collection of the Kōzan-ji Temple. It is said that during the 8th century in the Nara period the emperor ordered his aristocrats to play with ink. The emperor called this event an "ink fight" and he had a Tosa School artist paint the scene. In 1843 Utagawa Kuniyoshi inspired by the Tosa School artist again used this motif as did Kawanabe Kyōsai 河鍋暁齋 a little later.
This scroll has no signature or date and as the style is unique it cannot be attributed to any school however it appears that this delightful "ink war" was probably painted in the Late Edo period. (When referring to this item please quote stockid 157026).