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Asian art

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Fisherman returning home

circa 1785




1752 - 1811


Goshun was a leading exponent of the literati or 'nanga' school - one of the major schools of Japanese painting in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Goshun wrote 'haiku' poems and his interpretations of the 'nanga' style are distinguished by their poetry and lyricism. In subject, this painting follows the literati tradition of travellers in a landscape. The lone figure of the fisherman seems disproportionately large, asserting a native Japanese tendency to depict man at one with nature, not overwhelmed by the enormity of the cosmos, the response evoked by many of the Chinese prototypes of this style. This painting shows the 'nanga' delight in delicate surface patterns and subtle, seductive colourings. The fisherman with his straw cape, the pair of ducks and roughly thatched hut underscore the serene, rustic mood of the composition. The painting is regarded as a product of Goshun's mature phase. It was executed in Ikeda (in present day Osaka Prefecture) where Goshun was sent to recover emotionally from the unexpected deaths of both his wife and his father. Goshun stayed at Ikeda from 1781 to 1786 and the work he produced there is regarded as the best of his mature 'nanga' style.

'Asian Art', AGNSW Collections, 1994, pg. 220


Other Title

Fisherman in a forest

Place where the work was made



circa 1785

Media category


Materials used

hanging scroll; ink and colours on silk


110.0 x 33.0 cm image; 205.0 x 46.5 x 51.6 cm scroll

Signature & date

Signed u.r., in Japanese, ink [inscribed] "Goshun" [and artist's seal]. Not dated.


Purchased under the terms of the Florence Turner Blake Bequest 1984


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information


Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

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

Referenced in 5 publications


Edmund Capon AM, OBE and Jan Meek (Editors), Portrait of a Gallery, 'Asian Art', pg. 106-113, Sydney, 1984, 112 (colour illus.), 113.

Jackie Menzies, Art of the Brush - Chinese & Japanese painting calligraphy, Sydney, 1995, 23.

Jackie Menzies and Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Asian Collection Handbook, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Japanese Painting', pg. 53-69, Sydney, 1990, 66 (colour illus.), 67 (illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Edo Painting Schools', Sydney, 2003, 242 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, AGNSW Collections, 'Asian Art - India, South-East Asia, China, Tibet, Korea, Japan', pg. 173-228, Sydney, 1994, 220 (colour illus.).