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Kanzan and Jittoku



Nagasawa Rosetsu


1754 – 1799

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Edo (Tokugawa) period 1615 - 1868 → Japan
    Media categories
    Scroll , Painting
    Materials used
    hanging scroll; ink on paper
    156.0 x 82.3 cm image; 244.5 x 98.9 x 105.8 cm scroll
    Signature & date

    Signed u.r., in Japanese, ink [inscribed] "Rosetsu sha-i [conceived and painted by Rosetsu]" [and artist's seal]. Not dated.

    Purchased 1985
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Nagasawa Rosetsu

    Works in the collection


  • About

    This eccentric pair were one of the most popular subjects among Zen painters. Kanzan and Jittoku were two monks who lived on Mount Tiantai in Tang dynasty China (618-906), where they were known as Han Shan and Shi De respectively. Kanzan, in the true Zen manner, was a hermit-poet who befriended Jittoku, a kitchen-hand in the nearby Guoqing temple. Jittoku would give his friend leftover food from the temple, and in return Kanzan would read his humble colleague his poems. Here Jittoku, holding a bamboo pail, scrutinises his friend's poem with studied concentration, while Kanzan's expression is one of shy anticipation. There is a rich harmony between the two: the kitchen-hand and the poet are equals. Although Rosetsu has carefully distinguished the two in his handling of the brushwork, Kanzan's sharp definitive lines contrast with Jittoku's more unruly brush strokes and washes. Born into the family of a low-ranking samurai, Rosetsu was a pupil of the great master and founder of the Maruyama school, Maruyama Ôkyo, but was expelled and became a versatile individualist. The characters Kanzan and Jittoku capture something of the artist's own spontaneous independence of spirit.

    Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg. 280.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

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

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 9 publications

Other works by Nagasawa Rosetsu