Responding to the desires of the middle class (chonin), some late-Edo-period Japanese painters moved away from the seriousness associated with the Chinese theme of reclusion, focusing instead on the motifâ€™s humorous aspects. The theme Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup is based on a poem by the renowned 8th-century Chinese poet Du Fu about his eight colleagues. These scholars eagerly sought release from their official governmental duties and then supposedly fled the capital for the countryside.
There, they engaged in wildly eccentric behavior and adventurous creative work, all fueled by copious
amounts of wine. Shohakuâ€™s version of events exaggerates the scholarsâ€™ pleasure, as seen through
their comical facial expressions. [Seunghye Sun, Cleveland Museum of Art, (3/27-8/28/11); "The Lure of Painted Poetry"]