By Itsunen Shōyū
Early Edo period, 17th century
Donated by the Homma family
Itsunen Shoyu (1601–1668) is famous as the Buddhist monk and painter who helped to establish Zen Buddhism in Japan. This painting depicts an arhat (a Buddhist who has reached the stage of enlightenment) burning incense. It uses the intense primary colours characteristic of Ōbaku Zen portrait painting. The contrast between the carefully-drawn face and the bold yellow and blue of the garments makes a strong impression on the viewer.
The inscription at the top was written in 1672 by Ingen Ryūki, a Chinese poet, calligrapher and monk, and the founder of the Ōbaku school of Zen Buddhism.