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(Japanese, c. 1492–c. 1577)
One of a pair of six-panel folding screens; ink on paper
Painting: 157.3 x 339 cm (61 15/16 x 133 7/16 in.); Framed: 172.3 x 354 cm (67 13/16 x 139 3/8 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1959.136.1
Sesson's dragon, winding in and out of clouds, may have taken inspiration from Chinese Ming-dynasty works in the style of 13th-century Chinese painter Chen Rong.
In Chinese cosmology, dragons produce rain clouds. The dragon disappearing into and reemerging from clouds in this painting seems to generate rough waves in the water below, pulling it toward the sky. The shape of the foreground wave is indirectly sampled from a painting by 13th-century Chinese painter Yujian, a handscroll once owned by the Ashikaga military rulers of Japan. Sesson must have known the famous painting though copies, and made a copy of his own. Here, the wave reinforces the powerful quality of the dragon.
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