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Fukurojin, the God of Longevity and Wisdom

Itō Jakuchūc. 1790

Kimbell Art Museum

Kimbell Art Museum
Fort Worth, United States

This humorous image depicts Fukurojin, one of a group of Chinese divinities called the “Seven Household Gods,” who were also popular folk deities in Japan. Fukurojin, an old man, is always distinguished in this group by an exaggerated, tall forehead, which is taken to be indicative of his superhuman intelligence and wisdom. He stands under a pine tree with branches that are softly brushed to create the sense of long, thick pine needles, and he is dressed in a voluminous robe decorated with cranes and long-tailed turtles. In Asian mythology these three motifs—pine, crane, and turtle—are symbols of longevity.

Jakuchu, one of the Three Eccentrics of the Edo period (1615–1868), was a remarkable individualist whose paintings defy easy classification. Born in Kyoto, he was the eldest son of a wealthy greengrocer. Although he inherited the family business, he left the running of the shop to his brother and devoted his entire life to painting. Jakuchu’s oeuvre is extensive and broad in scope. His style ranges from colorful, decorative works on silk to daring compositions in ink; his subjects include elegant depictions of flowers and barnyard fowl, as well as major Buddhist icons and narrative themes.

Details

  • Title: Fukurojin, the God of Longevity and Wisdom
  • Creator: Ito Jakuchu
  • Date Created: c. 1790
  • Physical Dimensions: 45 5/8 x 22 1/4 in. (115.9 x 56.5 cm)
  • Provenance: In Japan, 1973; (Leighton R. Longhi, New York); purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1986.
  • Rights: Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
  • External Link: www.kimbellart.org
  • Medium: Hanging scroll; ink and light colors on paper
  • Kamakura period (1185-1333): Edo period (1617–1868)
  • Japanese: Japanese
  • Artist Dates: (1713–1800)

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