Orchids and Bamboo

Artist: Gyokuen Bonpō 玉畹梵芳 (1348-ca. 1420)
Historical period(s)
Muromachi period, 15th century
Ink on paper
H x W: 84.4 x 35.5 cm (33 1/4 x 14 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

bamboo, Japan, kakemono, Muromachi period (1333 - 1573)
Provenance research underway.

Zen monk-painters of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries admired the ideals and styles of Chinese ink painting, which they practiced and established in Japan. Their paintings were kept and admired in Japanese Zen Buddhist monasteries and other prestigious collections. Wild orchids growing naturally symbolized the high moral character of Chinese scholars who dwelt in remote mountain retreats.

In this elegant rendering of the subject, Gyokuen Bompo, a Zen Buddhist monk and abbot of two large monasteries in Kyoto--Kenninji and Nanzenji--has created a distinctive image of orchids with long leaves reaching upward. In later periods, the paintings of Japanese Zen monk-painters, especially those associated with Kyoto monasteries, continued to influence and to be admired by painters.

Published References
  • Zaigai hiho [(Japanese Paintings in Western Collections]. 3 vols., Tokyo. vol. 2: pt. II, p. 101.
  • untitled article. no. 768. pl. 4.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 24, vol. 2: p. 160.
  • N. Kumagai. Biography of Gyokuen Bompo. vol. 15 Tokyo, March 1933. pp. 15-34.
  • Chu-tsing Li. The Oberlin Orchid and the Problem of P'u-Ming. vol. 16 Honolulu. pp. 49-76.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 112.
  • Unknown title. no. 384 Tokyo. p. 383.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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