Mori Shūhō and others, Turtles, a hanging scroll painting


British Museum

British Museum

This is a collaborative work by ten artists, all based in Osaka. Since ancient times turtles have been a symbol of longevity, and a variety of shapes and sizes are depicted here. The two that feature an auspicious tail-like growth on their shells are minogame, which were supposed to live for a thousand years.

Mori Shūhō (1738-1823), as the senior member of the group, has painted the turtle at the top of the scroll, with an inscription above which reads, 'Hōgen Shūhō nanajū-hachi sai hitsu' ('Painted by Shūhō of hōgen rank at the age of 78 [77 by Western reckoning]') and a seal reading 'Hōgen Takanobu' ('Takanobu of hōgen rank').

Not all of the artists are known from other works, but they seem to be mainly from the Maruyama or Shijō schools. Shūhō was the elder brother of Mori Sosen (1747-1821) and Tetsuzan (1775-1841) Shūhō's son, was adopted by his uncle Sosen. Both Gesshō and Kōchō were pupils of Go Shun (1752-1811), and Hōchū was a talented Osaka painter in the Rimpa style. His turtle is done using the tarashikomi technique, typical of the Rimpa school.

The other signatures read as follows, preceded by the artist's surname in brackets, with accompanying seal readings given afterwards:

[Nagayama] Kōin - Chō
[Nakai] Rankō - Hakuyō
[Chō] Gesshō - Gesshō
[Fuji] Kyūran - Seibi, Gentsū
[Mori] Tetsuzan - Shushin
[Mori] Yūsen - Yūsen
[Ueda] Kōchō - Kōchō
[Nakamura] Hōchū - Tatsutatsu
[Yamanaka] Shōnen - [unread]

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  • Title: Mori Shūhō and others, Turtles, a hanging scroll painting
  • Date Created: 1815/1815
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 122.20cm; Width: 36.10cm; Height: 210.00cm (mount); Width: 54.00cm (mount)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: reptile
  • Registration number: 1989,1026,0.5
  • Production place: Made in Japan
  • Producer: Painted by Shuho, Mori. Painted by Nagayama Koin. Painted by Ranko, Nakai. Painted by Cho Gessho. Painted by Kyuran, Fuji. Painted by Tetsuzan, Mori. Painted by Mori Yusen. Painted by Kocho, Ueda. Painted by Nakamura Hochu. Painted by Shonen, Yamanaka
  • Period/culture: Edo Period
  • Material: silk
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum