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Asian art

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The Poet Rinnasei

19th century


attrib. Soga SHÔHAKU



Shôhaku often took his subjects from Chinese mythology, with a noted preference for recluses, eccentrics and such well-known figures as the Daoist Eight Immortals. Here he has chosen the Chinese poet Lin Hexing (in Japanese, Rinnasei) who, although described as a poet, did not want to leave his poems to posterity and hence never committed them to paper. The poet has his back to the viewer, absorbed in his own musings. His unkempt hair and beard, and plain, voluminous robes - realised in the assured, scratchy brushstroke typical of Shôhaku's style - emphasise the poet's indifference to accepted standards of appearance and behaviour. Together with Nagasawa Rosetsu and Ito Jakuchu, Shôhaku is considered one of the three 'eccentrics' of 18th century painting who refused to belong to one of the large studios.

The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.236.

Soga Shôhaku is considered as one of the 'three eccentrics' of the 18th century alongside Itô Jakuchû and Nagasawa Rosetsu. As he was a very popular artist, many paintings are attributed to him as this one from the Meiji period. This painting has a faked seal - on the original seal the bottom line becomes thicker towards the right.


Other Title

Man standing with hands behind back

Place where the work was made



19th century

Media categories

Painting , Calligraphy

Materials used

hanging scroll; ink on paper


129.8 x 49.6 cm image; 219.8 x 65.4 x 71.6 cm scroll

Signature & date

Signed: "Heian Kishin-sai, Soga Shôhaku Dôjin, Taira-no TERUTAKA zu [Kishin-sai, Taoist Soga Shôhaku, Taira-no DERUTAKA from Kyoto painted (this)]" and "Jasoku-ken Shôhaku [artist's seal]". Not dated. ink. Note that this inscription is in Japanese and was translated by YOSHIDA Haruki, an independent scholar, Canberra. "Kishin-sai" amd "Jasoku-ken" are Shôhaku's studio names. "Taira-no TERUTAKA" is his pseudnym.


Gift of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs 1963


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

attrib. Soga SHÔHAKU

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 4 publications


Edmund Capon, The Connoisseur, 'Far Eastern Art in the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 22-29, London, May 1980, 26 (illus.).

Jackei Menzies, The Australian Antique Collector, 'Recent Japanese Acquisitions at the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 90-95, Chippendale, Jan 1981-Jun 1981, 92 (illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Art of the Brush - Chinese & Japanese painting calligraphy, Sydney, 1995, 19.

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Edo Painting Schools', Sydney, 2003, 236 (colour illus.).