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Paintings on fusuma (sliding door); Hotei with children (recto) and peacocks (verso)

Kano Tsunenobu, Japanese, (1636–1713)

Creation date: ca. 1700
Creation place: Japan

Other Information

Type: Fusuma (sliding door)
Medium and Support: Ink, watercolor on wood
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Leon D. Bonnet
Accession Number: 1955.99.2.a-d
Dimensions: 38 1/4 in. x 52 5/8 in. x 1 5/8 in. (97.16 cm x 133.67 cm x 4.13 cm)

Label Copy

May 16, 2020
James Grebl, Ph.D.

Tonight I’d like to tell you the story behind the beautiful fusuma or sliding doors that are periodically on display in G8. The doors, painted with peacocks, rabbits, birds, flowers and a Hotei with children, were the gift of Mrs. Leon D. (Grace) Bonnet, wife of the distinguished painter Leon Durand Bonnet in 1955. Mrs. Bonnet, who was an avid member of the Asiatic Arts Committee for years, had first loaned the doors to the Fine Arts Gallery in 1948 for a temporary exhibition. Then in 1955 she donated them to the FAGSD along with the walls and ceiling of an authentic room from an 18th century Japanese house. Mrs. Bonnet had acquired the room, the fusuma, and other Japanese works of art during a stay in Japan lasting two years. The whole ensemble had been installed at the Bonnet’s home in Tuxedo, New York where the artist had lived for years and maintained a studio even after they settled in San Diego (Bonita) in the late 1920s. After the death of Leon in 1936, Mrs. Bonnet closed the house in Tuxedo and moved the Japanese room to San Diego.

Leon Durand Bonnet (1868-1936), born in Philadelphia, was descended from several generations of French artists. After arriving in San Diego he began to paint landscapes featuring the local mountains and deserts and achieved a solid reputation. He was an active member of the Fine Arts Society and the Contemporary Artists of San Diego. He can be seen in the first attached photo which shows the 1930 meeting of the Contemporary Artists in the FAGSD. He’s the second man from the right in the third row, directly behind the young boy who was his son, E. Scofield Bonnet. Grace Scofield Bonnet (1875-1966) is the woman at the far left of the front row wearing a long string of beads and standing next to Allice Klauber.

The Japanese room took a lot of space to be exhibited so it was dismantled and stored in the vaults shortly after its initial installation. Finally, it was deaccessioned in May 1982 except for the four wonderful fusuma which we still enjoy on a rotating basis today.

November 2004
Past in Reverse
These painted panel doors were once in the home of a wealthy lord (daimyo) who was a scion of the Tokugawa shogun clan. The portly and affable figure of Hotei, a popular Buddhist divinity associated with prosperity and happiness, has resonances with Hung Yu's irreverent drawing of the “Happy Buddha.” In this characteristic rendition of Hotei, he carries a large bag filled with provisions for his travels, tied to a long stick, and he playfully interacts with the two children. While he has been particularly well-known in Japan since the seventeenth century, he was originally a sixth-century Chinese Buddhist priest, and an example of a legendary figure who crossed national borders of East Asia.

The painting is accented with raised and textured sections achieved through the use of gesso underneath the pigment. Further texturing is seen in the horizontal wooden panels below with lions and bamboo, here effected by burning the imagery into the wood. Blind contemporary artist Takayuki Mitsushima uses textured drawings on a series of small panels in his work, which conveys the experience of his journey through urban spaces. A sense of traveling through space is evident in the paintings on the doors, which are two panels in a series of eight. The gesture of the boy on the door resonates with the act of touching so central to Mitsushima's work.
Last Updated: 5/16/2020


This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Asia Crossroads Rotation , 8/1/2002 - 8/1/2003

Art of East Asia San Diego Museum of Art , 2/3/2013 - 8/1/2013


This object has the following bibliographic references:

Ms. Yu Sung. San Diego Museum of Art San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, California, 1993
Page Number: 62, 63, Figure Number: 63

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