The Kura - Japanese Art Treasures
Otsue Spear Bearer by Tanomura Chokunyu

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Directory: Archives: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Pre 1920: item # 1170736

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817-2 Kannonji Monzen-cho
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Otsue Spear Bearer by Tanomura Chokunyu
The lowly spear bearer goose-steps down the street ordering all to bow to the Lord behind, a comic look of distress on his face. The scene is performed with ink on silk attributable to important artist Tanomura Chokunyu and is set in an attractive border of stripes which sets off the comic nature of the scene. The scroll is 20 3/4 x 81 1/2 inches (53 x 207 cm) and in fine condition, but for some wrinkles visible in the photos (as it was lit from above these are far more pronounced in our photographs than appear in life with moderate lighting).
The spear bearer came to represent the arrogance of the Edo government and was a vehicle of dissent for the pro Imperialists. It was he, the lowest of the samurai, who haughtily marched as if he were the lord, calling on all to bow down. Here we see him, throwing out orders as he marches along, unaware of the disdain in which he is held.
Tanomura Chokunyu (1814-1907) was born in Oita (the Oka Feif) and studied initially under Okamoto Baisetsu before moving to paint under the famous literatus Tanomura Chikuden (1777-1835), who adopted him as a son and had a very strong influence on the young artist. Upon Chikudens death he also studied briefly under Oshio Chusai (1792-1837) then finally ventured out on his own upon that teachers passing. He moved to Kyoto, where he helped found the Kyoto Municipal School of painting and eventually withdrew from the world, becoming an Obaku Zen Monk in 1902.

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