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An image of The Six Immortal Poets by Hokusai pupils

Hokusai pupils

(Japan  – )

The Six Immortal Poets
Place of origin
Edo (Tokugawa) period 1615 - 1868 → Japan
circa 1830
Media category
Materials used
hanging scroll; ink and colour on weathered paper

94.0 x 28.5 cm image; 177.5 x 31.0 x 35.9 cm scroll

Signature & date
Signed l.l. to l.r., in Japanese, ink [inscribed by six different artists] "Hokuga ga [picture by Hokuga]", "Shunkô-tei hitsu [drawn by Shunkô-tei]", "Hokuei ga [picture by Hokuei]", "Hasegawa sekkô ga [picture by Hasegawa Sekkô]", and "Hokuju ga [picture by Hokuju]" [and each has there own artist's seal]. Not dated.
Purchased 1983
Accession number
Upper Asian gallery
Further information

In the poetry tradition, some outstanding poets have been worshipped as 'immortals'. The most popular groupings are the Six Immortal Poets and the Thirty-Six Immortal Poets. Both are popularly portrayed in paintings and other arts. The painting is an example of the collaborative works so popular with artists and poets and so often created at literary and artistic gatherings. Six artists drew the portraits and the literary scholar Rokujuen contributed a comic poem:

'In the Kokin Preface
You can here the sound
The Six Poets made
When their heads
Cracked together.'

'Kokin' refers to a 10th century poetry anthology which names the six poets as 'famous poets of recent times'.

The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.201.

Bibliography (4)

Jackie Menzies, Art of the Brush - Chinese & Japanese painting calligraphy, Sydney, 1995, 24.

Jackie Menzies, The Floating World: Japan's world of transient pleasures, Sydney, 1994. L4

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The aesthetic of transience', Sydney, 2003, 201 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies and Edmund Capon, Asian Collection Handbook, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Japanese Painting', pg. 53-69, Sydney, 1990, 64 (illus.).

Exhibition history (3)

The Floating World: Japan's World of transient pleasures, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 May 1994–17 Jul 1994

Art of the brush, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Sep 1995–12 Nov 1995

Conversations through the Asian collections, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Oct 2014–05 Sep 2015