Gan Tai, Eagle and a Monkey, a hanging scroll (detail: signature and seals)
© The Trustees of the British Museum
Edo period, AD 1838
'One day without painting means one day without food'
In this impressive scene, an eagle has just alighted on a rock beneath a pine tree, and is eyeing a monkey hiding in a cleft in the rock below. Both the tree and rock are painted in broad, rough ink strokes, with only a few areas or touches of colour. The bird of prey twists dramatically towards the monkey, its feathers likewise depicted in rough strokes, all adding to the fierceness of the creature. Its size is conveyed both by the sheer size of the painting and by the tremendous contrast with its prey.
Gan Tai (1785-1865) was the son and pupil of the famous painter Gan Ku, founder of the Gan (Kishi) school of Kyoto. The father's influence can be seen very clearly here in the bold brushwork. Gan Tai was known for his landscapes, bird-and-flower, and animal paintings. He contributed to the success and prosperity of the Gan school, and received the court title Echizen-no-suke.
The inscription and signature translate as 'Painted in the 3rd month, 1838; Echizen-no-suke Gan Tai'. The seals below are 'Dôkôkan' - the studio founded by Gan Ku - and 'Gan Tai'. The seal in the bottom right reads 'Ichinichi fusaku, ichinichi fushoku' ('One day without painting means one day without food'), an admirable motto.
Height: 1701 mm
Width: 1371 mm
Object reg. no: AC 1881,1210,0.2709
Department of Asia