Hibo Kannon

This monumental painting represents Kannon in the guise of a maternal figure who nurtures an infant surrounded by a halo. Both figures hover among clouds high above the stark landscape of the world where the child will live. The painting exhibits both a signature and seal.

Maker(s)
Artist: Kanō Hōgai 狩野芳崖 (1828-1888)
Historical period(s)
Meiji era, 1883
Medium
Ink, color and gold on silk
Dimensions
H x W (image): 163.9 × 84.6 cm (64 1/2 × 33 5/16 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1902.225
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Hanging scroll

Keywords
bodhisattva, Buddhism, child, cloud, halo, Japan, kakemono, kundika, Meiji era (1868 - 1912)
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

This monumental painting represents Kannon in the guise of a maternal figure who nurtures an infant surrounded by a halo. Both figures hover among clouds high above the stark landscape of the world where the child will live. The painting exhibits both a signature and seal.

Label

This monumental painting of Kannon, a bodhisattva (enlightened being) associated with infinite compassion, portrays the Buddhist deity in the guise of a maternal figure who nurtures an infant below surrounded by a halo. Both figures hover among clouds high above a stark landscape that represents the world where the newborn child will live. This unusual presentation of the familiar deity Kannon was based on traditional Buddhist works of art, in which the deity is sometimes attended or accompanied by a child. Hogai's work differs from traditional Buddhist paintings, however, in that the artist intended from the outset to create a painting for public display in art exhibitions rather than as an object of veneration for a Buddhist temple. This painting was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1883.

The American educator Ernest F. Fenellosa (1853-1908), who served on Japan's Imperial Art Commission from 1886-89, became a strong advocate and patron of Kano Hogai after meeting him in 1883. In 1886, while traveling in Europe for the imperial art commission, Fenellosa purchased from art dealer Siegfried Bing this painting of Kannon, which he called "The Creation of Man." Charles Lang Freer purchased the painting in 1902 from Fenellosa. In the last year of his life, Hogai completed a second version of Hibo Kannon, which is now in the collection of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.


Published References
  • Okakura Shusui, Honda Tenjo. Kano Hogai ibokucho [Paintings by Kano Hogai]. Tokyo. pl. 26.
  • Ernest F. Fenollosa Papers: The Houghton Library, Harvard University. 2 vols., , Japanese edition. Tokyo. vol. 2: pl. 23.
  • David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1984. p. 15, fig. 10.
  • Two Tapestries: The Miho Merciful Mother Kannon and the Lotus Miroku. p. 21.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 140, fig. 93.
  • Francis P. Sullivan. The Hermes of Hogai [Avalokites'vara (Hibo Kwannon)]. Washington, June 1926. p. 262.
  • Yashiro Yukio. 2000 Years of Japanese Art. New York. p. 263, pl. 172.
  • Nobuo Tsuji. History of Art in Japan. Tokyo, Japan. p. 383, fig. 6.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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