Attributed to Kanō Shōei (1519-1592)
Scroll, ink on paper
H.: 169 cm – W.: 55.5 cm
Muromachi period, 16th century

Hotei is originally a legendary Buddhist priest of the Tang Dynasty in China, who became one of the Seven Deities of Good Fortune (七福神Shichi fuku-jin)  once he was introduced in Japan.

Kanō Shōei was the 4th-generation chief of the Kanō school. The Kanō school had been the most privileged and celebrated school of Japanese painting for 400 years. The school system had been established in 15th century by Kanō Masanobu (1434-1530) who served for the Ashikaga shogunate. It was a professional group of painters who worked for the people in power of the time. Each generation maintained and polished the hereditary technique and the style by copying the old masterpieces.

This depiction of Hotei appears very close to the figure of Hotei which widespreaded among early members of the Kanō school in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Shōei’s brush strokes are mild and refined while succeeding his father’s technique faithfully. He left a large number of works, but he is rather well-known as a father of the genius son, Kanō Eitoku (1543-1590 5th-generation chief), and as the great conductor of the school.