The Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup

The Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup

later 1700s

Part of a set. See all set records

Soga Shohaku

(Japanese, 1730-1781)

Six-panel folding screen, ink and cut-gold foil on paper

Painting only: 120 x 352.2 cm (47 1/4 x 138 11/16 in.); Including mounting: 137.5 x 369.6 cm (54 1/8 x 145 1/2 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1976.11.2

Description

Responding to the desires of the middle class (chonin), some Japanese painters of the late Edo period moved away from the seriousness associated with the Chinese theme of reclusion, focusing instead on the motif’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. Shohaku’s version of events exaggerates the scholars’ pleasure, as seen in their comical facial expressions.

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