Unkoku Tōki, Hawk on a Willow, a hanging scroll painting


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

Tōki (born 1767) was a painter of the Unkoku school, which originated in the Momoyama period (1568-1600). One favoured subject of the school was the hawk, most likely in order to challenge the rival Soga school, who were actually more successful in depicting the same theme. In the case of such a traditional subject matter there was limited opportunity for the artist to imbue the work with any individuality. The hawk was usually shown on an oak tree, but here it perches on a willow. Perhaps in this way Tōki was trying to inject some originality into a well-worn theme.

Tōki was the eighth generation head of the Unkoku school, which had been founded by Tōgan (1547-1618). Tōgan claimed artistic descent from the virtuoso ink painter, Sesshū (1420-1506), and took Sesshū's art name Unkoku as his surname. Tōki retired as head of the school in 1836, and is known to have produced works as late as 1842, but his date of death is unknown.

The signature reads 'Unkoku Hokky&omacr Tōki' ('Unkoku Tōki of hokkyō rank'), and the seals read 'Unkoku' and 'Hokkyō Tōki' (Tōki of hokkyō rank).

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  • Title: Unkoku Tōki, Hawk on a Willow, a hanging scroll painting
  • Date Created: 1800/1899
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 99.00cm; Width: 36.90cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: bird
  • Registration number: 1913,0501,0.118
  • Production place: Painted in Japan
  • Producer: Painted by Toki, Unkoku
  • Period/culture: Edo Period
  • Material: silk
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Gwynne-Evans, William. Previous owner/ex-collection Morrison, Arthur