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Scholar Gazing at a Waterfall

This painting by Tani Bunchō features a scholar sitting on a rock ledge framed by a weathered old pine tree and gazing at a waterfall with a distant view of mountains in the mist. In the religious traditions of Daoism and Shinto, lofty mountains carry special importance. They function as points of contact between the human and immortal realms and, along with water, serve as oppositional, yet complementary, forces in the universe constructed by Daoism. Immersion in nature through actual contact or via a painting engendered spiritual renewal. In this late career painting, Bunchō’s brushwork is bold and brash, with sharp, pleasing contrasts between light and dark.

Tani Bunchō
Japanese, 1763–1841
Scholar Gazing at a Waterfall
1830s
Ink on paper
66 1/4 x 30 3/4 (168.2 x 78.1 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 81.69