Ink on silk, scroll
Attributed to Ganku
Signed and sealed “Ganku”
Edo period, 18th-19th century
H; 81.5cm, L; 32.5cm (H; 146cm, L; 43cm)
Tiger has been a symbol of the force and the bravery in spite of their absence until modern times in Japan. Japan adopted the image from China as a king of the beast on the earth through the paintings and the Chinese literatures. One of the earliest example is on the Tamamushi shrine in Hōryū-ji temple (7th century).
Kishi Ganku (1749 or 1756-1839) was a remarkable Japanese painter of the late Edo period based in Kyoto. He was the founder of the Kishi School of painting.
He was known for his paintings of tigers. Since there was no living tiger in Japan, although many painters were fond of using tigers as a motif, most of the painters modelled tigers after cats or followed the Chinese paintings. However, Ganku obtained a tiger skin, skull and limbs which had been imported from China, and studied it anatomically. Hence, he could draw a tiger realistically.