six-panels showing a landscape with two male figures and an ox; man in UL lies prone atop a rocky cliff with his right hand extended; man in center leads ox out of a wooden structure with a thatched roof; thick cloud cover present in first four panels

Xu You and Chao Fu [left of a pair of the Legends of Xu You, Chao Fu, and Bo Le], early 1760s

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Soga Shōhaku was celebrated in his own life for his unorthodox, peripatetic lifestyle and for the ease with which he could transform his painting style on a whim. But he was also a deeply studious painter who was fluent in a variety of classical Japanese and Chinese painting styles and had a vast knowledge of traditional painting subjects. In this pair of half-height folding screens, he combines illustrations of two stories about wise misfits from Chinese legend: a pair of insightful recluses, Xuyou and Chaofu, at right, and a famous judge of horses, Bole, at left. Shōhaku’s unconventional pictures, with their bold compositions, grotesque trees and pillars, and comically drunken old men, belie the serious philosophical underpinnings of the legends themselves, both of which appear in the Zhuangzi, a foundational Daoist text written in China in the 300s B.C.E.

Exhibitions
Details
Title
Xu You and Chao Fu [left of a pair of the Legends of Xu You, Chao Fu, and Bo Le]
Artist Life
1730 - 1781
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2015.79.185.2
Catalogue Raisonne
Murase, Art through a Lifetime, no. 437
Curator Approved

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six-panels showing a landscape with two male figures and an ox; man in UL lies prone atop a rocky cliff with his right hand extended; man in center leads ox out of a wooden structure with a thatched roof; thick cloud cover present in first four panels