Hanging scroll. Three toads personify war lords waging war against each other, mounted on snails and suzumushi, while ants, bees, spiders, suzumushi, earwigs and praying mantises are doing the actual fighting. Ants with guns in the background. Signed Bunko Shotei ga, and with red seal reading Shotei. Ink and mineral colors on silk. Japan, Edo period, 19th century.
Image: H 37 ½ x W 13 ½ inches; whole H 65 x W 18 ½ inches.
Very rare composition. Most insect paintings depict daimyo procession persiflage (mitate), which is connected to peace time travel to and from the capital.
Although no information can be found on Shotei, the painting is clearly in the tradition of the Maruyama/Shijo school. Most or all paintings with insect processions, or fox processions in light colors, fading into the background were painted by Maruyama/Shijo painters, among whom Nishiyama Hoen. Many of Hoen’s paintings are in the British Museum.