View publication - Erik Thomsen Asian Art



View publication - Erik Thomsen Asian Art
Erik Thomsen 2009
Japanese Paintings and Works of Art
Japanese Paintings and Works of Art
Table of contents
Foreword and Acknowledgements
Bamboo Baskets
Signatures, Seals and Inscriptions
Foreword and Acknowledgements
I am delighted to present our annual spring catalog,
The lacquers are, as the scrolls, marked by nature
which features selections from my five specialties
themes. They date mostly from the Taishō period
within Japanese art: screens, paintings, bamboo
of the early 20th century, a fascinating time for
baskets, ceramics and gold lacquers. All items pre-
Japanese art when there were strong interactions
sented here were made in accordance with Japanese
with the Western art world. The Japanese art
taste and aesthetics and are connected with either
trade was flourishing and the quality of the materi-
domestic artistic traditions or with the important
als used and the work done was of the highest
question of how to integrate new Western ideas
level. The wisteria writing box (nr. 26) is a good
into Japanese arts.
example of these high standards and also epitomizes the beautiful, subtle and understated
The screen selection starts out with a brilliant pair
aesthetic that makes Japanese art outstanding.
of mid-Edo period screens depicting a luxurious
scene of blooming wisteria, followed by four pairs
I wish to thank my wife, Cornelia, and everyone
of screens painted by early 20th century artists. The
else who made this catalog possible; in particular
screen pair by Yamaga Seiga (catalog nr. 2) is pre-
our photographer, Cem Yücetas, who traveled
sented here publicly again for the first time since it
from Germany to photograph the collection, for
was exhibited at the fifth Bunten in Tokyo in 1911
his patience and perfectionism, and especially
and at the International Exhibition of Contemporary
our designer in Frankfurt, Valentin Beinroth, for his
Art in Amsterdam in 1912.
clean design, attention to detail, and perseverance.
The scroll paintings are inspired by themes from
nature. The two paintings of roosters by the artists
Itō Jakuchū (nr. 6) and Itō Jakuen (nr. 7) present a
Erik Thomsen
valuable opportunity to compare the way the artists
New York, March 2009
treated the same subject with the same media
and to observe their similar yet quite different brush
techniques. Although mysteries surround their
exact relationship, the two artists were clearly related
at some level; this exhibition offers a visual evidence of this link and makes a cogent argument for
considering Jakuen a separate artistic personality
with great talent.
Of the bamboo ikebana baskets shown, I am particularly fond of the two masterworks by Chikubōsai I
(nrs. 16 and 17). Their bold shapes and fine details
delight at first sight and do not disappoint with
closer inspection. Among the selected ceramics,
the fifteenth century Shigaraki jar (nr. 21) is a
spectacular example of its kind. It has a beautiful
shape with strong shoulders and dramatic natural ash glaze patterns, as well as exciting surface
textures and colors.
Hasegawa School, anonymous
Flowering Wisteria
Edo period (1615 –1868), 18th century
This glorious pair of screens is made in the eigh-
H 64 ¾" × W 145 ¼"
teenth century by an anonymous artist. Judging
(164.5 cm × 369 cm) each
from the style of the work and the luxurious use of
Pair of six-panel folding screens
mineral colors, the artist may have been part of a
Mineral pigments, ink and gofun on gold leaf
workshop that produced screens for the interiors
of the wealthy: the merchant houses, restaurants,
A remarkable pair of six-panel screens with a
temples, and homes of the aristocracy. With periodic
luxurious detailed display of the flowers and wild-
fires being a fact of urban living in pre-modern
life of late spring. The focal point of the screens
Japan, there was always a market for refined works
is unmistakably centered on a glorious proliferation
of art to place within architectural interiors. At
of flowering wisteria plants. In the left screen, the
peace and with a mostly flourishing commerce,
wisteria plants grow over a bamboo lattice and
eighteenth century Japan underwent an especially
fence, seeming to overpower the structure with
rich flowering of its arts and culture, and this paint-
their exuberance. In the right screen, the wisteria
ing bears evidence to its riches in both the use
flowers appear from behind a garden fence and
of luxurious materials and in the sheer energy of
grow by an aged pine tree in the garden. In both
screens, we see an interesting contrast between
the domesticated and the wild, the garden and
Other examples of wisteria screens with similar
nature: the two worlds seem to overlap and in-​
compositions can be seen in the Nihon byōbue
teract with each other and the artist deliberately
shūsei. According to Nakajima Junshi such screens
leaves the boundary between them ambiguous.
date from the eighteenth century. In fact, all the
Other plants appear as well, such as the low-lying
screens (including the present screen pair) may
bamboo in the left screen and a splendid growth
stem from the same source, one that Nakajima
of tree peony (shakuyaku) in the right screen. The
ascribes to »mid-Edo variations of the Hasegawa
two screens are linked by the depiction of a pond,
School.«1 The existence of an additional wisteria
within which we see lovingly detailed groups of
screen pair of earlier date signed Hasegawa Sōen
the flowering water lilies (hitsujigusa).
(ac. 17th century), in the collection of the Seianji
Temple 盛安寺 in Shiga Prefecture, further heightens
This luxurious hideaway from society is visited by
the likelihood that the present pair of screens was
various flying objects: the screen to the right by
created by a follower of the Hasegawa School. 2
three red-breasted Daurian Redstarts (jōbitaki) and
the left screen by several types of butterflies. They
seem to thoroughly enjoy their private place of
refuge. The butterflies can be seen playfully flying
together, and, splashing into the water, a bird forms
delightful finger-like patterns of water around it.
The two right-most panels of the left screen reveal
a virtuosic brush display by the artist, as he lovingly
created a network of wisteria vines that seems to
want to take flight, reaching out for the flying butterflies just beyond its reach.
Yamaga Seika 山鹿清華 (1885 –1981)
Painting of a Cuckoo「かんことり図」
Meiji period (1868 –1912), 1911
»Your song caresses / the depths of loneliness /
H 52 ¾" × W 110 ¼"
high mountain bird.«3 The artist successfully creates
(134 cm × 280 cm) each
a visual connection to such poems and to a rich
Pair of six-panel folding screens
tradition of the cuckoo within Japanese literature.
Mineral pigments and ink on gold leaf
As written on the inside cover, this work was
Signed: Seika 清華
exhibited in the fifth national Bunten exhibition in
Seals: Seika 清華
1911.4 In the following year, it was then exhibited
Box inscription, outside: Kankotori zu »Painting of a
Contemporary Art (Internationale Tentoonstelling
Cuckoo« かんことり図
van Hedendaagsche Kunst), held at the Stedelijk
in Amsterdam at the International Exhibition of
Museum, Amsterdam, in 1912.5 It was one of few
Box inscription, inside: »Exhibited at the fifth Bunten
paintings at the time to win great honors in both
exhibition and exhibited at the World Exposition
Japan and the West, a fact which led Seika to write
in Amsterdam, Holland« 第五回文部省美術展覧会
his proud inscription on the box cover.
出品、和蘭國 アムステルダム万国美術博覧会出品.
»Dated the seventh month of 1911, [signed] Seika«
The artist is Yamaga Seika (1885 –1981), who was
明治辛亥初秋 清華
born in Kyoto Prefecture.6 He, as many others of
his generation, went to Tokyo to be educated in
Published: Shinbi Shoin 審美書院 Monbusho
painting, studying under Nishida Chikusetsu 西田
daigokai bijutsu tenrankai zuroku 文部省第五回美術
竹雪 in 1900 and then two years later under the re-
展覧会図録. Tokyo: Shinbi Shoin 審美書院, 1911.
nowned Kamisaka Sekka 神 坂 雪 佳 (1866 –1949).7
Also published in: Nittenshi Hensan Iinkai
After placing the present painting in the Bunten and
日展史編纂委員会, Nittenshi 日展史.
then subsequently in an international exhibition in
Tokyo: Nitten 日展,
Amsterdam, he painted other large works, among
1980 –.1
which a pair of screens with the title Shirakanba
The painting offers a magnificent display of Cryp-
シラカンバ was exhibited in the first Seibu Tenrankai
tomeria trees (Sugi) spreading across two six-fold
of the National Art Association in 1913. This pair
screens. The detailing is remarkably realistic and
of screens, which was published in the exhibition
gives a striking sense of depth, due to carefully cal-
volume, exhibits composition and execution similar
ibrated variations in colors. The trunk of the tree is
to the Cuckoo pair: in both the focus is on isolated
marked with the ravages of time, giving the impres-
groupings of trees of the same species, created
sion of an old and mighty tree, deep in the forest.
with exquisite details and set against a simple
Hidden among the branches of the tree a bird can
gold-leaf background.8
be seen, the Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus),
in Japanese Kakkō or Kankodori.2 The artist chose
It is unusual for an artist to completely change his
the latter reading for the bird, a name which also
field, especially after early success; having suc-
can be translated as »high mountain bird« and which
cessfully participated in national and international
has clear poetic connotations. The bird has a long
exhibitions and achieved nationally-recognized
tradition in Japanese poetry, appearing not only in
status. However, this was the case with Yamaga Seika,
classical Heian-period waka poetry but also in
who, after achieving a breakthrough with this paint-
early modern haiku. Matsuo Bashō (1644 – 94), for
ing in 1911 and 1912, chose to leave the field of
example, wrote a poem on the bird:
Nihonga painting completely. Seika became one of
the few Japanese artists who was able to create
first-rate works in a number of different fields. After
his success in Nihonga he went on to become one
of the leading textile designers and experts of the
twentieth century, amassing an impressive trail of
awards and achievements.
Seika’s participation in national exhibitions in his
second field of textile design is nothing but
astounding—entries in over thirty major national
exhibitions between 1911 and 1957.9 He also
became an exhibition judge of the Teiten in 1932,
the Shinbunten in 1943, and a member of the
Nitten in 1950 and kept a close connection to the
latter through a number of executive positions.
Seika also took part in numerous overseas expositions and won the grand prize at the Paris International Exposition in 1925.10 An authority on textiles and textile design, he also left a number of
publications behind him.11 He ended his long
illustrious career with some of the highest honors
bestowed on Japanese artists, being named a
Person of Cultural Merit (Bunka Kōrōsha 文化功労者)
in 1969 and awarded the 3rd Class Grand Cordon
of the Order of the Sacred Treasure (Kunsantō
zuihōshō 勲三等瑞宝章) from the Emperor in 1974.
The present screen holds an important place in
his illustrious career as it was the first public sign
of success that marked his start as an artist: this
was the first of his artworks to be accepted by a
national exhibition and to be seen by the general
Tsuji Kakō 都路華香 (1870 –1931)
Young Pines
Taishō period (1912 – 26), circa 1920
task, as too great a slope of the paper would let
H 53 ¼" × W 106"
the ink spill down the screen. This effect may seem
(135.5 cm × 269.5 cm) each
unimportant but it fulfills two important goals: the
Pair of six-panel folding screens
many pools of ink have the effect of reinforcing
Ink on gold leaf
the theme of repetitions across the screen surfaces
and also to anchor the pines more firmly in the
Signed (right screen): Kakō kore egaku »Kakō
gold ground: thanks to the pools of ink, the pines
painted this« 華香画之.
curiously do not appear to float in space, but rather
Seals: To Yoshikage In »the seal of To Yoshikage«
seem firmly planted into the frosty winter earth.
都良景印, Kakō 華香
Signed (left screen): Kakō ga »Painting by Kakō«
Tsuji Kakō is one of the most celebrated Nihonga
artists of the twentieth century and has long been
Seals: To Yoshikage In »the seal of To Yoshikage«
well represented in Western collections.1 The
都良景印, Kakō 華香
Griffith and Patricia Way Collection,2 for example,
contains several outstanding works by this remark-
Many rows of young pines march across this pair
able painter, who succeeded more than almost
of screens, in a exuberant celebration of the New
any other Japanese artist of his time in combining
Year. A Japanese custom of the season is to place
Japanese painting tradition with modernist ideas
decorations with young pine seedlings, known as
of art. The abstraction of simple motifs was a theme
kadomatsu, at entrances of homes to bring good
that again and again found representation within
luck in the new year. Here the artist has placed a
his works—in this work, certainly, with young pines,
great multitude of pine seedlings, seeming to bring
but also in other key works with bamboo plants,
a prodigious amount of good fortune in the new
ocean waves, and even flying ducks.3 He has found
year for the owner screen's owner.
acceptance in Japan as well, and the recent important retrospective exhibition of his works at the
The artist, Tsuji Kakō (1870 –1951), has placed the
National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto (2006) is
pines, the sole decoration of the screens, entirely
but one indication of the growing world-wide rec-
within the lower half of the screen, thereby focus-
ognition of Kakō’s place among the great Japanese
ing our attention to the plants and the unusual
artists of the modern era.
composition of the screens. Following the examples of other screens by this noted artist, the plants
are abstracted repetitions of each other, varying
only in the intensity of ink density. These plants
appear in groups, streaming across the screens in
currents, close to and far from the viewer.
A further interesting characteristic of the screens is
the brush technique. Large-scale screens were typically drawn while the mounted paper was lying flat
on the floor. The artist has, however, placed the paper on a slanted surface for the drawing of the pine
trunks, so that the ink could collect in pools at the
bottom of each plant. This was by no means an easy
Minakami Taisei 水上泰生 (1877 –1951)
Melting of the Snow「雪解け」
Taishō period (1912 – 26), circa 1920
The artist, Minakami Taisei (1877 –1951), was a
H 66 ½" × W 147 ¾"
native of Fukuoka in Kyūshū. He studied in Tokyo,
(168.7 cm × 375 cm) each
graduating from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in
Pair of six-panel folding screens
1906, and then continued his studies under Araki
Mineral pigments, ink, gofun and
Bokusen and Terazaki Kōgyō (1866 –1919) before
gold on silk
returning to Kyūshū. Teaching at a local college,
he started a parallel career as a painter, submitting
Signature: Taisei 泰生. Seals: Kōjundōjin 廣純堂人
works to exhibitions, both in Japan and abroad.
After his resounding success in exhibitions and
The artist presents the viewer with a tour-de-force
universal critical acclaim, he decided in 1916 to re-
nature study of a mountain meadow at the time
sign his teaching position and move back to Tokyo
of melting snow. Among the rough forms of the
where he became active as a leading painter until
mossy rocks, we see snow banks melting by a
the end of his life.1
profusion of new plants. Among others we see the
bramble ( ibara), mountain mandarin orange
His works entered the Bunten exhibitions six times
(yama tachibana), Amur Adonis (fukujusō), ferns
and the Teiten twelve times, in addition to a number
(shida), violet (sumire), magnolia (kobushi), spindle
of other exhibitions.2 In time, he also became an
tree (mayumi), pine (matsu), bamboo grass (sasa),
exhibition judge and was accorded special status.
bamboo (take), pampas grass (susuki), and a
He submitted a large-scale work Ryūkyū Flowers,
creeper (kazura).
a pair of screens depicting tropical plants from
Okinawa, to the Panama-Pacific International Expo-
The title yukidoke—Melting of the Snow—is a term
sition in San Francisco in 1915, where it received
that has been used in the visual arts and in litera-
a prestigious gold medal.3 Eugen Neuhaus, then a
ture as a point of change that marks the end of
professor at UC Berkeley, highlighted the work in
the cold and the approach of spring. As such, the
his book on the exposition:
painter’s theme plays within long Japanese traditions. The execution of the painting, however, is
The two sixfold screens by Taisei Minakami …are
daringly unconventional and anything but tradi-
probably the most magnificently daring examples
tional. The rocks, in particular, are painted with a
of modern Japanese art. … Acutely observed …
mixture of techniques unusual for Nihonga paint-
very daring in color …exhaustingly beautiful. The
ings: for example, tarashikomi (dripped pigments),
spacing of the design, the relative distribution of
hatsuboku (»broken« ink), varied gofun applica-
the few daring colors against a gold background
tions, accentuated brush marks, and the application
of wonderful texture, combine in a picture of great
of thick layers of pigments. The rocks appear in an
imaginative new mixture of Japanese techniques
with the new abstracted art images imported
These qualities of acute observation, daring display,
from European artists. Through the combination
and great vitality can also be seen clearly in Melting
of numerous techniques and daring experimenta-
of the Snow. The screens with their exciting display
tion, the rock surfaces now appear to be wet with
of forms and colors highlight the expressive powers
moisture, almost as if they were streams of water,
of a superb artist at the peak of his powers. They
adding to the sense of the snow melting and of the
never fail to excite and reward the viewer who gives
imminent arrival of spring.
them yet another look, from up close or from afar.
Hirai Baisen 平井楳仙 (1899 –1969)
Kyoto in the Winter
Taishō-Shōwa periods, 1920s
of the site we recognize from our visual memory.
H 67 ¼" × W 148 ½"
The screens work on overturning expectations: we
(170.5 cm × 377.5 cm) each
expect to see Kiyomizu with the lattice-like scaf-
Pair of six-panel folding screens
folding of the Main Hall; we also expect to see the
Colors, ink, and gofun on paper
many cherry trees of the area in full bloom—he artist now shows a tantalizing glimpse of one and the
(Left screen) signature: Baisen 楳仙.
snow-laden branches of the other. We also expect
Seal: Baisen 楳仙
to see colorful streets, plants, flowers, and architecture, but instead see a view composed almost en-
(Right screen) seal: Baisen 楳仙.
tirely from the monotones of ink wash. Also, instead
of the densely-built, tourist-infested tourist sites
This pair of screens offers a spectacular view of
that we are familiar with, we are now given a poetic
Eastern Kyoto in the winter. The artist has taken the
reworking of reality: here is a refined view of Ja-
two best-known sites of the eastern part of the city,
pan’s architectural past set within new contexts—the
Kiyomizu Temple and Yasaka Pagoda, and placed
sites as they interact with the elements of nature.
them into his new, highly original vision of Kyoto.
We see the two famous sights and also the shop-
An intellectual painter, Hirai Baisen (1899 –1969)
lined streets that join them, such as the Ninenzaka,
was at the cutting edge of the twentieth-century
Chawanzaka, the Sannenzaka; in addition, the roofs
Nihonga movements during his early years.1 He was
of Jojuin Temple can be seen, just to the left of
highly interested in the histories of institutions,
Kiyomizu Temple. All store roofs are covered with
especially those of temples, as can be seen from his
snow and the streets appear on the screens as if
many works on these themes.2 He was also keenly
they were the backbones of large, white creatures.
aware of Japanese art history, a fact that comes
In the snow we can also distinguish the rows of
across clearly in this screen, with its evocative ech-
cherry trees, now in the depths of winter. And
oes of past masterpieces, such as the handscroll
overall we see the falling of fresh snow, in the form
by Yosa Buson (1716 – 83), Snowclad Houses in the
of drops of gofun, finely ground seashell powder,
Night (Yashiki rōdaizu 夜色楼台図, Miho Museum) 3.
against a dark sky painted with ink wash. When
We see here the same rooftops, the rolling hills in
looked at from a low perspective, as they were in-
snowy white, the gofun spattered snow, and the
tended to be seen, the screen pair reminds one of
mottled ink wash sky as in the Buson masterpiece.
looking out of a window in the early morning with
The painter also refers back to the many screens of
awe after a silent all-night snowfall has magically
the famous sites of Kyoto, the Rakuchū rakugaizu
transformed the landscape outside. One can sense
screens, with their sites separated from each other
the weight of the heavy, snow-laden gray clouds
by gold clouds, here replaced by banks of snow.4
above and the silence of the snow-covered moun-
The screens are a testament to the genius of Baisen
tain below them.
as he revisits the iconic masterpieces of the past
and then successfully reworks them into a new
Without the iconic image of Yasaka Pagoda on the
left screen it would be very difficult to place this
view—one would almost be tempted to place it in
Yoshino or other parts of Japan. The placement of
the pagoda works as a memory marker: the rest
of the image is then placed into order, in context
vocabulary of his own.
Itō Jakuchū 伊藤若冲 (1716 –1800)
Chicken by a New Year’s Cask
Edo period (1615 –1868), 1793
neatly intersected by the three chicks in the middle.
H 41 ¼" × W 11 ½" (incl. mounting 76 ½" × 17")
This line forms the central point of tension within
(105 cm × 29.2 cm, 194.5 cm × 43 cm)
the painting, and the artist, in order to emphasize
Hanging scroll, ink on paper
this focal point, depicts the hen looking up toward
the rooster, the gaze, in effect, reinforcing this line.
Signature: Beito’ō gyōnen hachijūsai egaku
米斗翁行年八十歳画 »Old man Beito painted this
The ink tones are expertly varied, even within indi-
in his eightieth year of his life«
vidual lines: for example, how ink of darker tone is
drawn into the rope that holds the cask together
Seals: (Top) Tō Jokin in 藤女鈞印
or the legs of the rooster, and how the fine texture
»The seal of Tō Jokin«,
of the fern branches are emphasized with expertly
(Bottom) Jakuchū koji 若冲居士
applied ink modalities. Not only are the finer, care-
»The lay monk Jakuchū«
ful ink details planned, but flamboyant touches are
created in a seemingly spontaneous manner, such
Inscription (on painting): »So beautiful / the water
as the striking whip-like strokes of dark modality
that springs / from these chicken«
that form the rooster’s tail feathers. The very varia-
tion of ink, such as in the body of the rooster, cre-
Signed: Seki Musan 石無賛
ates an exciting set of patterns that work together
in defining the shape of the animal beneath it.
Inscription (on box, front): »The roughly festive
chicken by old man Itō Jakuchū (sic)«
There are other examples with similar compositions
and representations of Jakuchū’s chickens; the topic
seems to have been a favorite one for the artist and
Inscription (on box, back): »The character chū (sic)
his friends.1 This particular work was created at the
is written chū (correct). Signed Arifumi on the third
end of his life, when he was leaving much of the
month of 1860« 仲者冲也 庚寺申三月春有文「印」
daily business of his Fushimi highway shop to his
students and was largely free to visit friends and to
A rooster balances himself on the edge of an
take part in meetings of cultural salons.2 A number
empty cask that has been decorated for the New
of the paintings at the time were planned so that the
Year. A flock of chicks look on from the rim and a
inscriptions of friends could be inserted. The pres-
hen regards her mate apprehensively from below.
ent case seems be such a work, where the painting
The rooster is drawn in a range of ink tones, pat-
was completed in a communal setting. After
terns, and techniques and clearly takes the center
Jakuchū drew his painting, Seki Musan inscribed
of the stage with his acrobatic feats. The hen, in
the painting with a poem that described the com-
contrast, is outlined in a wavering ink stroke and
position and how the beautiful chickens will bring
completed with thin, finely-drawn features.
forth the water in the empty cask.3 Judging from
the decoration on the container, this collaborative
Jakuchū’s chickens, whether posturing males or
work may well have been created at a New Year's
timorous females, never appear as static figures;
gathering in Jakuchū’s eightieth year.4
they are always shown in a dynamic state and relate
to each other. That is also the case in this painting,
in which the composition hinges on a line that can
be drawn from the rooster to the hen; one that is
Itō Jakuen 伊藤若演
(ac. late 18th – early 19th centuries)
Rooster on a Lantern
Edo period (1615 –1868), circa 1800
of adding ink of darker modality to lighter lines can
H 44 ¼" × W 15 ¾" (incl. mounting 74" × 20 ¾")
be seen in both paintings, here in the ascending
(112.5cm × 40 cm, 188 cm × 53 cm)
rope and the talons of the rooster. The technique
Hanging scroll, ink on paper
of sujimegaki, of adding lines of like density ink
on top of each other—a technique that Jakuchū
Seals: Tō Gaji jinju 藤雅時人寿, Jakuen 若演
brought to its perfection—is also seen here, used
most effectively in the windows, roof, and base of
A rooster has flown up to a hanging lantern and
the lantern. The understated use of the technique
is surveying its domain. There is a certain tension
in the window latticing is executed in a discreet
in the bird’s position as the lantern appears to
and sophisticated manner. The strong dark brush
be swaying under the sudden weight of the bird:
lines for the tail have little of the tour-de-force
it leans to one side, and the fine line of the rope
effect we see in Jakuchū; with Jakuen such lines
receding toward the top of the painting makes it
are more controlled, with an emphasis on creating
appear as if the lantern is swinging toward the
patterns and expressing refined order. While the
viewer. The sense of controlled tension—of balance
two artists used many of the same techniques, in
within imbalance—makes this painting appealing
the end they created works of art quite different
and exciting to the viewer.
from each other.
The painter Jakuen forms one of the mysteries
Clearly it is not enough to think of Jakuen as a mere
surrounding the great eighteenth-century painter
imitator of Jakuchū, and this has increasingly been
From their painting style, techniques,
the consensus of both scholars and collectors over
and motifs, even their names (both using the same
the last few years. More and more objects by Jakuen
character »jaku«), we know that there was a close
are being discovered and introduced—including
connection of some
The questions center on
the present work, a newly discovered Jakuen paint-
how this connection was formed and on the iden-
ing in its first public viewing. Collector Joe Price
tity of Jakuen, who clearly was a talented artist with
was one of the pioneer promoters of Jakuen and
social connections. We know that he took part in
his recent catalog, with five outstanding works by
group projects and that he was versatile in both ink
Jakuen, stands as a testament to his vision and also
and color, creating works on both paper and silk,
to the future appreciation of this painter, no matter
just like Jakuchū. He also created time-consuming
his true identity.4 Through the active research into
large-scale works, such as large paintings and
such works, we may well eventually solve some of
the mysteries surrounding this fine artist.5
We know from documents that Jakuchū
had a number of apprentices—was Jakuen one of
these? Or was he one of the higher-placed persons
to whom Jakuchū taught painting? Hopefully these
questions will be solved over time.
For now, it is instructive to notice the techniques
that Jakuen used, and to then compare them
with Jakuchū, his likely master. In this case we are
fortunate to have images of both artists in this
exhibition, both on the same theme. The technique
Miyoshi Joka 三好汝圭 (1765 –1842)
Exotic Birds and Grapes
Edo period (1615 –1868), dated 1805
of Tani Bunchō (1763 –1840) and was included in
H 52 ½" × W 18" (incl. mounting 82 ¼" × 26 ½")
the latter’s circle of important cultural figures. The
(133.3 cm × 45.5 cm, 209 cm × 61.3 cm)
circle of artists around Bunchō collaborated at a
Hanging scroll, colors and ink on silk
number of group projects such as the Meika kōsō
名花交叢, an anthology of flower designs published
Signature: »Joka, the winter of Bunka 2 (1805)«
in 1805. The images for this volume were designed
by many of the leading painters of the day, includ-
Seals: Joka and Tafuku 汝圭, 太復 ing Sakai Hōitsu, Tani Bunchō, Bunchō’s son Tani
Box inscription: »Painting of grapes by Joka«
Bun’ichi, and others, including Joka.2 The publica-
葡萄図 汝圭
tion of this work in 1805 was coincidentally the
same year as the creation of this painting of birds
A pair of red-billed blue magpies (Urocissa eryth-
and grapes.
rorhyncha) appear feasting on clusters of grapes
on heavily-laden grapevines, twisting across the
The biographical records of Miyoshi Joka show
surface of the painting.1 The male spreads himself
that he—in the tradition of Itō Jakuchū (1716 –1800)
out with his long and distinctive tail feathers in the
and others—started his career as a self-taught paint-
center of the painting, while the female appears
er, learning his skills by copying imported paint-
to the lower right, seeming to offer a grape to her
ings from China dating to the Ming and Qing
mate. The pair looks at each other across the center
periods.3 The skills of the artist can be gauged by
of the painting, an act that further serves to unite
the present painting, which shows him adeptly
the diagonally-based composition.
creating a composition of exotic birds and grapes.
As both the birds and the grapes were decidedly
Joka was an Edo artist, born and bred in the capital
non-native to Japan, the statement was clearly one
city, and was active in the cultural world of the 18th
of China, and meant as an expression of apprecia-
and 19th centuries. He was, for example, a friend
tion of Chinese culture, a feature shared by many
intellectuals and artists of the day.
The grape was native to neither Japan nor China,
but rather came from Central Asia. Due to its twisting vines and clusters, it proved from early on to
be an ideal plant with which to decorate objects,
from rims of silver cups to the bases of bronze Buddhist statues. In due time, it also became a topic
of its own, appearing as the subject of Chinese
artists such as Wen Riguan ( ? – circa 1297), Lu Ji
(circa 1440 –1505), Xu Wei (1521– 93) and others.
Japanese artists, in turn, took images of grapes
not from life but rather from other paintings, and
a thriving tradition in depicting the grape developed
in Japan over the centuries. A notable example
from the eighteenth century is Jakuchū’s Rokuonji
Temple wall paintings, in which the walls of an
entire room are decorated exclusively with grapes.4
Sakatani Hironaga 坂谷廣長 (1760 –1814)
Ōta Sukenobu 太田資順 (1762 –1808)
Cuckoo in the Autumn
Edo period (1615 –1868), circa 1805 – 8
application of mineral colors and in the traces of
H 37 ¼" × W 12" (incl. mounting 70" × 16 ½")
the handscroll format, such as the horizontal direc-
(94.3 cm × 30.4 cm, 178 cm × 42.2 cm)
tions and the stylized clouds on the bottom right
Hanging scroll, colors and ink on silk
corner of the painting. The striking composition is
unusual, with six different tree types at the bottom
Signed: »by the brush of Hironaga« 廣長筆
and with the hototogisu, a small cuckoo, flying
Seal: Kei’i 桂意
above in the clouds.
The waka poem: Where the gathering clouds /
This is a collaborative work, painted by the court
Spread like blankets / The cuckoo /
painter Hironaga with a waka poem brushed by
From time to time / Lets his voice be heard.
the daimyō Ōta Sukenobu (1762 –1808). Sukenobu
was the seventh head of the Ōta clan and the third
むら雲の たなびくにての 時鳥 たえだえにこそ daimyō of the Kakegawa domain in present-day
Shizuoka prefecture.2 As a daimyō, Sukenobu was
required to reside regularly in Edo, and it is likely
Sakatani Hironaga (1760 –1814) served together with
that this work was created in the city at one of the
his father as an official painter to the shogunate
many salons that flourished around literary daimyō
The father was taught by the Sumiyoshi
lords. Sukenobu was also an imperial courtier with
school and the son by the father, leaving traces
the rank of Senior Fifth grade, Lower Rank and
of the Sumiyoshi school in the works of the son. In
designated the Lord of Settsu (従五位下摂津守).
this painting this influence can be seen in the thick
The painting is a visual form of the poem, with a
cuckoo flying above the banks of clouds. The
cuckoo, a small bird with a piercing and plaintive
cry, was thought to be able to sing only when
flying—hence the depiction of the bird in flight. The
painting and poem describe the splendor of longing: of hearing a long-lost voice that reverberates
in the misty clouds of the wilderness. The autumnal
feel of the landscape further accentuates the
sense of loneliness.3
The late-Edo period box is inscribed by a previous
owner, Hisakata 久堅, who lists the two collaborators on the cover. He also describes the occasion
of the painting coming into his possession, though
the name of the gift giver unfortunately has been
crossed out, most likely to protect his or her identity
as the scroll left the family. As Sukenobu attained the
rank of Daimyō in 1805 and passed away at the young
age of 47, only three years later, it is possible to date
the production of this work to the period 1805 – 8.
Kano Seisen’in 狩野晴川院 (1796 –1846)
Misty Cherry Blossoms「霞櫻」
Edo period (1615 –1868), circa 1830
this view, the cherry branches appear seemingly
H 41 ¼" × W 16 ¼" (incl. mounting 71" × 19")
out of nowhere and branches, trunks, and flowers
(105 cm × 41.4 cm, 180.5 cm × 48 cm)
appear strikingly disconnected to each other as
Hanging scroll, colors, gofun, ink, and
the golden clouds bathe the composition in a soft,
gold on silk
warm glow.
Signature: »Brush of Seisen Yasunobu« 晴川養信筆
The painter of this work, Kano Seisen’in
Seal: »Seal of Yasunobu« 養信乃印
(1796 –1846), became the eighth generation head
Box inscription: »Misty cherry blossoms by Kano
of the Edo Kobikichō branch of the school.1 As the
Seisen« 霞櫻・狩野晴川
official painter of the Shogunate (goyō eshi), he
had access to Edo Castle and to its storage rooms,
The artist describes here the high point of the
as well as to the upper echelons of military rulers.
yearly cherry viewing season. The fully opened
He was richly endowed with honors and titles and
cherry blossoms cluster on the branches, and
took on the title of hōgen in 1819 and the title of
slowly a few petals fall downwards—indications that
hōin in 1834.
this moment of exquisite beauty will not last.
Judging from the luxurious composition and the
The artist created a detailed view of this very
rich use of gold and pigments, the painting was
moment, of the yearly ritual of cherry viewing that
most likely a commission intended for a highly
is as much part of most Japanese’s lives today as
ranked recipient. In any case, the moment the
it was back in the early nineteenth century when
painting was presented to its future owner almost
the painting was made. Cherry blossoms have
certainly coincided with the actual cherry-viewing
traditionally been depicted in a number of modes;
season. In this way, the glorious displays of cherry
for example at night or with a slight breeze. The
trees in the gardens would vie with the poetically
present mode, in which the flowers are in a mist, is
rendered blossoms by Seisen’in, hanging inside
perhaps the most poignant of these variations. In
the room in its alcove.
Uchida Hirotsune 内田広恒
(fl. circa 1800 – 30)
Deer and Autumn Maples
Edo period (1615 –1868), circa 1820
paints) on the deer’s back and on the maple tree
H 22 ¾" × W 31 ¼" (incl. mounting 60 ¾" × 36")
trunk; the lack of ink outlines and the fluid character
(57.6 cm × 79.3 cm, 154 cm × 91.5 cm)
of the deer; the use of gold wash on the clouds;
Hanging scroll, colors, ink, and gold on silk
and the traces of the brush left on the leaves and
the hilltops.2
Signature: Hirotsune ga 広恒画
»painted by Hirotsune«
This painting is an important reminder that for much
Seal: Bunkyō 文卿
of its history the Rimpa was seen not as a school
but as a style that could be used by a wide range of
In this autumnal scene, a stag stands among grassy
artists. It is also a reminder that Japanese artists of
hills, its head cocked, on the alert for danger. The
the Edo period were typically versatile in more than
legs of the deer are restless, about to move at a
one style—and that the concept of painting schools,
moment’s notice if needed, further emphasizing
into which we usually attempt to pigeonhole artists,
the ephemeral quality of the scene. Colorful maple
exists more as a convenient way to classify them,
leaves can be seen above on the tree to the upper
and less as an expression of the works that they
left; a few have fallen and can be seen near the
actually produced.
deer’s hooves.
As for the details of Hirotsune’s life, we know that
The deer in autumn is a classic Japanese theme,
he was trained under Sumiyoshi Hiroyuki and that
in painting as well as in literature, and numerous
he was active in the early half of the nineteenth
famous poems refer to this combination, usually
century.3 We also know that he was given commis-
referencing the plaintive cry of the lonely male
sions for temples, possibly through his teacher’s
deer among the autumn
A number of artists
connections, including an extant narrative hand-
have imagined such scenes through the centuries,
scroll in Jōsenji Temple 常宣寺 in Fukushima
and in this painting, the Sumiyoshi-school artist
Prefecture, a scroll titled Jōsenji engi emaki 常宣
Hirotsune reduces the scene to its barest essentials:
寺縁起絵巻 that depicts the origin of the temple
the hills, a tree, and a furtive deer.
and the miraculous events that took place there,
including those related to its Amida figures. The
The artist was a Sumiyoshi-school painter but painted
handscroll is depicted in typical Sumiyoshi-school
here with several Rimpa-school elements, includ-
style, with rich mineral pigments and fine colorful
ing the dripping-pigment technique tarashikomi
details, as in the present painting.
(where ink and pigments are dripped into still-wet
Fujiwara Hakuei 藤原伯英 (ac. 19th c.)
Successful Carps「出世鯉」
Edo period (1615 –1868), circa 1865
the growing spring moon, with its waxing image
H 38 ¾" × W 13 ¾"
reflected in the water, he also refers to the grow-
(incl. mounting 73 ¾" × 17 ¼")
ing carps in the water, growing in both size and
(98.7 cm × 34.7 cm, 187.5 cm × 44 cm) each
achievement. The poet is an interesting example
Pair of hanging scrolls, colors and ink on silk
of the samurai who became cultural figures of
their time. He became the leader of the account-
Signed (on both paintings): By the brush of 67-year
ing section of the Kaga Domain Daimyō and was
old Hakueisai 六十七歳伯英斎筆
in charge of controlling the finances of the castle
Seal (on both paintings): Fujiwara 藤原
and the considerable holdings of his lord. He gave
Box inscription outside: »Painting of Successful
up his post, however, and started a school of his
Carps by the brush of Hakuei«
own in Kanazawa, the castle town, and became
Shusse koi no zu, Hakuei hitsu 出世鯉之図 伯英筆
established as a major poet. He was a painter and
Box end: »Successful Carps, two scrolls, brush of
a student of the haiku poet Kaian Taijō 槐庵大常
Hakuei« Shusse koi nifuku hakuei hitsu
and used the artist names Kaian Taimu (sixth gen-
出世鯉 二幅 伯英筆
eration) 槐庵大夢, Bōan 忘庵, and Nanmuan (third
Poem and inscription inside box:
generation) 南無庵. He compiled poem antholo-
Looking at the river / the growing reflection / of the
gies, provided prefaces for numerous publications,
moon in the spring 河みても 陰のふとりや 春の月
and wrote several major works of his own.2
Signed by the 72-year old Kaian Taimu
The paintings are drawn in an interesting mixture
of styles, with the waves in a typical Kano genre
The artist Hakuei depicts two carps in water in this
and the carp more in the Nagasaki School style, a
pair of paintings, one ascending a waterfall and the
style favored, among others, by leading lords such
other, on the left, looking on and preparing itself
as Satake Shozan, the daimyō painter of Akita. The
for the jump. The fish are carefully rendered with
artist certainly was a highly skilled painter, very
fine details of the scales. The waves, in contrast, are
likely an amateur painter of high rank, as he had a
more stylized, with regular patterns and translucent
leading contemporary poet inscribe and sign his
work. A note in the scroll box attributes the paintings to the leader of the Maeda family, the daimyō
Japanese paintings of carps and waterfall refer to
family of Kaga Domain, who resided for a part of
an old Chinese story of carps trying to ascend the
the year in Kanazawa, the same town as the poet.3
waterfall at Longmen. According to the legend, a
This attribution, however, remains to be proved,
carp successfully swam up the Longmen Falls
due to the lack of extant paintings with the present
(Dragon’s Gate), where it then transformed itself
name. If the attribution is correct, then the scene
into a dragon. This became in time a symbol for
could be imagined of the daimyō sitting down with
perseverance and success, as climbing a waterfall is
a former samurai vassal and collaborating on this
no simple matter. The inner meaning of the paint-
pair of paintings, wishing themselves—now both in
ings is also reflected on the accompanying box title
their old age—success in all new endeavors. As the
»Painting of Successful Carps« or Shusse koi no zu.
poet inscribed the box in 1865 at the very end of
the Edo period at a time of nationwide unrest, the
The noted haiku poet Naoyama Sōshirō 直山宗四郎
painting and its message of future success was one
(1794 –1874) has inscribed the box with a poem
with timely significance for both the intellectuals
that refers to the
Although he describes
and the leaders of Japan.
Nomura Bunkyo 野村文擧 (1854 –1911)
The Moon in the Rain「雨中月」
Meiji period (1868 –1912), circa 1900
symbol of Japan—gained imperialistic overtones in
H 22 ¼" × W 33 ¼"
the growing movement towards war. Images of the
(incl. mounting 70 ¼" × 40 ½")
moon, however, were free of national symbolism
(56.5cm × 84.7 cm, 178.5 cm × 103 cm)
and the present image represents more an attempt
Hanging scroll, ink and gold on silk
by the artist to depict a natural phenomenon as
realistically and movingly as possible within the
Signature: Bunkyo 文擧
medium of painting. This he accomplishes remark-
Seal: Bunkyo no ga’in 文擧画印 ably well with just a few basic tools: the brush, ink,
Box inscription: »The Moon in the Rain« 雨中月
and gold. Bunkyo creates a convincing and moving
Nomura Bunkyo野村文擧
image of great beauty, which is also endowed with
drama: we see the moon as it is being threatened
The artist Nomura Bunkyo reveals a dreamy
by the dark clouds coming in from the left. The
nocturnal scene of the moon veiled by rain clouds.
clouds seem to be forming the head of a gigantic
Although the theme may be simple, it is anything
dragon, approaching from the left as if wanting to
but that in actual execution. The artist created the
devour the celestial body. The artist avoids giving
moon by leaving the circular area free of ink and
the composition a sense of gloom by leaving the
pigment and surrounded it in wonderfully varying
lower left corner unpainted: we sense that there is
intensities of ink wash. The ink is partially brushed
hope after the storm and that eventually the moon
on and partially dripped onto the wet surface in
will shine again.
a tarashikomi effect. The lines of rain are partially
done in ink and partially in lines of shimmering
The artist was a major artist and teacher of his time
gold wash, going diagonally across the surface. The
who influenced the art world of the Meiji period in
body of dark clouds at the bottom left is balanced
a number of ways. He came from a wealthy mer-
with a light band of clouds in the upper right.
chant family in Gokasho, Shiga Prefecture, and was
fortunate in having a very fine group of teachers,
Depictions of the sun became popular in the
starting with Umekawa Tōkyo 梅川東擧 (1828 – 69),
twentieth century, especially as the sun—long a
an ukiyoe artist, then Shiokawa Bunrin 塩川文鱗
(1808 – 77), one of the great Meiji talents, then finishing up with Mori Kansai 森寛斎 (1814 – 94), who
worked in a wholly different manner. Combining
the teachings of his three teachers, he set out on
a life of teaching and production of art. He started
teaching at an art school in Kyoto and moved on
to the imperial university in Tokyo, the Gakushūin
学習院, where he became a professor. He taught,
among others, Yamamoto Shunkyo 山 本 春 挙
(1871 –1933), one of the founders of the modern
Kyoto art scene. He was also a regular exhibitor
at national exhibitions and became a judge for the
Bunten, starting with its second national show.
In addition, he was one of the three founders of
the influential Japanese Painting Association
(Nihongakai 日本画会).1
Arai Kōu 荒井晃雨 (Ac. early 20th century)
The Jōruri Chanter at a Puppet Theater
Taishō period (1912 – 26), circa 1920
of the school; Oyō, in particular, is considered to
H 76" × W 42 ¼" (incl. mounting 116 ½" × 51 ¾")
have been the greatest female jōruri performer and
(193 cm × 107.5 cm, 296 cm × 131.5 cm)
composer in the history of the art form. In other
Hanging scroll, colors, gofun, ink and
words, by placing a woman performer in this paint-
gold on silk
ing, the artist was not making a startling statement,
but was instead referring to a long tradition.
Signature: Kōu 晃雨
Seal: Takako多加子
Of note, however, is the way that the artist is making
Inscription: »Arai Kōu« 荒井晃雨
a psychological study. The mood of the woman
»Beautiful woman as puppeteer«
forms the central point of interest of the painting.
Just what brought forth this feeling is of course
part of the attraction of the painting: we do not
In this oversized scroll a beautiful woman is seated,
know. Also new is the startling color palette of the
hands folded, behind the stage of a bunraku theater.
painting: the combination of salmon pink, lime
She is taking a rest and wears a slightly melancholy
green, faded purple and others would have been
expression, the artist perhaps imagining the moment
unimaginable a few decades earlier. We clearly
after an exhausting performance or the nervous
see the influx of new ideas and techniques, many
moments before a challenging appearance. Behind
coming from the West, that marks the interesting
her, on the wall, is a program of the performances
creative impetus of the Taishō period. A recent
of the day and, to the left, the two protagonists of
catalog has explored the visions of this era1 ;
the play, a beautiful courtesan with an elaborate
this painting similarly illustrates the attempts by
hairdo and a finely-dressed samurai. The clothing
Japanese artists to combine the modern with the
style of both figures indicates the Edo period, the
traditional, the West with Japan.
setting for most of the classical bunraku plays.
We know that the woman must be a jōruri chanter
The artist is one of the many new artists springing
from the songbook with notations placed in front
forth at this time. We know that she was a female
of her and that she also plays the samisen from
artist, named Arai Takako, and that her artist name
the instrument placed behind her and the samisen
was Kōu, all from the information on the paint-
equipment box placed next to her on the floor.
ing. We can surmise from her artist name that her
teacher could have been either Tasuku Kōriku
For most of the Edo period, the bunraku theater was
佐晃陸, Takei Kōriku 武井晃陸, or Hiroshima Kōfu
even more important than the kabuki theater and
広島晃甫, three noted artists working in Tokyo at
most of the classic plays used on the kabuki stage
this time.2 However, little more is known of the
have their origins in the bunraku theater. Interest-
artist, despite her obvious talents. As can be seen
ingly the bunraku theater was not an exclusive male
in the aforementioned catalogue, there are defi-
world. For example, the Kiyomoto 清 元 School,
nite limits to our knowledge of artists from this
the main group of both jōruri chanters and samisen
period.3 For one thing, the great Kantō earthquake,
players, had important female members and leaders.
which marked the unfortunate end of the Taishō
Particularly famous are the two nineteenth-century
era, killed a number of promising artists, along with
leaders Kiyomoto Enjudayū IV (1832 –1904) and his
their documentary records. Despite the relative
wife, Kiyomoto Oyō (1840 –1901), the daughter of
proximity of this painting to our time, we may never
Enjudayū II (1802 – 55). Both are thought to have
discover who created this melancholy beauty,
been among the greatest performers in the history
sitting backstage by herself.
Yamamoto Gempō 山本玄峰 (1866 –1961)
Long Life「寿」
Shōwa period (1926 – 89), circa 1950
he was only able to read and write with difficulty.
H 69" × W 36 ¾" (incl. mounting 90 ½" × 46")
He turned to calligraphy at a late age and devel-
(175 cm × 93.5 cm, 230 cm × 117 cm)
oped his own particular style, which relied on his
Hanging scroll, ink on paper
own sense of aesthetics and was unburdened by
the weight of tradition and rules. Being barely able
Central character: kotobuki 寿 »Long life«
to see, he relied on large and vigorous move-
Seals: Rinzai seishū »Rinzai, the true sect« 臨済正宗,
ments of the brush, and his characters have a raw
Hannya kutsu »the cave of Hannya« 般若窟;
power of expression and persuasion, much like
Gempō 玄峰 the man himself.
Outer scroll: Gempō Rōshi »Old Dharma Master,
The present work is a case in point. This is a huge
Gempō« 玄峰老師 kotobuki« long life« 寿
character for »long life« that seems to demonstrate
Ryūtakuji-zō »collection of Ryūtakuji Temple«
longevity by its prodigious size. The top half of the
龍澤寺蔵 Tsuda Kiraku tsuizen »for the memory of
character is created architectonically, with strong
old man Tsuda Kiraku« 津田喜楽翁追善
parallel and perpendicular lines. The lower part,
however, loses all restraint and flies off in circles,
Box inscription: Hannya Daishi »the great master
leaving traces of »flying white,« lines of unpainted
Hannya« 般若大師 kotobuki »long life« 寿
paper left between the brush hairs of the stroke.
Tsuda Kiraku bodai no tame »For the repose of old
The sheer strength it must have required of Gempō
man Tsuda Kiraku« 為津田喜楽翁菩提 Mitta shiki
is clear by the prodigious spattering of ink in the
»certified by Mitta [Nakagawa Sōen]« 蜜多識
area around the two lower seals. At the bottom of
Seals: Mitta 蜜多, Sōen 宋淵
the paper, a final, urgent gasp of the brush can
[seals of Nakagawa Sōen]
almost be heard as it goes over the edge to the
bottom, with its ink almost spent.
Yamamoto Gempō is one of the towering figures
of twentieth century Zen Buddhism.1 Not a greatly
The paper was placed on the floor—we can see
learned monk but a greatly charismatic one, he was
the patterns of the tatami mats through the strokes—
able to create great opportunities for the strength-
and the monk must have stood above the paper
ening and expansion of Zen Buddhism before
to be able to create the large brush strokes neces-
and after the Second World War. Gempō became
sary for a character of this size. As such it was
known as the second Hakuin, and his life followed
probably a public performance for a specific event.
the life of the great Edo period Zen master in a
The inscription on the outside of the scroll and
number of ways. He was able to reach the masses
on the box mention a Tsuda Kiraku, with one stating
and earn their respect; he was a great temple
that the scroll was made for his repose and the
restorer, rebuilding a number of temples that
other stating that the calligraphy was made as a
had fallen into disuse; he became abbot of the
memorial to this man; he may well have been a
Ryūtakuji Temple in Mishima; and he became
local practitioner.
known for the many pieces of calligraphy and
paintings he created during his long life.
The scroll has been authenticated by Nakagawa Sōen
(1907 – 84), the monk who followed Gempō as the
Like Hakuin, Gempō relied on the medium of the
abbot of Ryūtakuji. Sōen was a great leader himself
brush to reach people, and many striking works
and became known as a haiku poet and a calligra-
remain from his brush. Due to his near blindness,
pher in his own right.
Bamboo Baskets
Chikubōsai I (1872 –1950)
Art Deco Karamono Basket
Shōwa period (1926 – 89), 1930s
and connect the ends to the basket body. The entire
H 22 ¾" × W 8 ¾"
basket exterior was applied with a thin layer of
(57.7 cm × 22 cm)
natural lacquer, which has gained a warm patina
Ikebana flower basket, bamboo and rattan
over the decades.
Signed: Chikubōsai kore tsukuru
»Chikubōsai made this«
The basket is signed on the bottom with an incised
signature reading Chikubōsai kore tsukuru or
This large and imposing bamboo ikebana flower
»Chikubōsai made this«. It comes with a faceted
basket has an ingenious geometry, starting out
and lacquered bamboo otoshi tube to hold water
square on the bottom, flaring out on the sides, and
and flowers and with a fitted kiri-wood box.
ending up round on the top. The wide vertical strips
on the four edges were made with old bamboo
Maeda Chikubōsai was one of the greatest bamboo
and add character to the body.
artists of the early twentieth century. He became
famous for having made presentation baskets for
The bamboo strips forming the sides and bottom
the Imperial family in the early 1920s. His son,
are arranged in the sensuji-gumi or kushime ami
Chikubōsai II (1917 – 2003), continued the tradition
thousand-line construction. Arranged parallel, the
and was named a Living National Treasure for the
strips are reinforced with thicker bands of bamboo
bamboo crafts in 1995, a title he held until his
strips on the inside. They are held together with
death in 2003.
fine rattan strips, which are plaited in mat and crossstitch patterns. The sides are further reinforced
with an unusual diamond-shaped pattern, which
shows a strong art-deco influence.
The tall, elegantly curving handle is made of three
bamboo branches; fine rattan strips plaited in
beautiful patterns hold them together on the top
Chikubōsai I (1872 –1950)
Square Karamono Basket
Shōwa period (1926 – 89), dated 1941
patina already when he made it and even more so
H 19 ½" × L 6 ¾" × W 6 ¼"
today, almost 70 years later.
(49.5 cm × 17 cm × 16 cm)
Ikebana flower basket, bamboo and rattan
The basket comes with its original sugi-wood
Signed: Chikubōsai kore tsukuru
tomobako box which is inscribed on the lid top:
»Chikubōsai made this«
Kodai ya-shiki hanakago or »Flower Basket in
the Style of Ancient Arrows«; on the reverse the lid
Chikubōsai made this karamono-style bamboo
is inscribed: »A present for Mr. Ueda Saneyoshi
ikebana basket in a square tapered form using
of the Nihon Bareisho Tamanegi Yushutsu Kumiai«
split old bamboo arrows. The attractive handle is
(»Japanese Association for the Export of Potatoes
made with old bamboo having a warm patina;
and Onions«) and dated October, 1941; followed
the top is held together with fancy plaiting, the han-
by a further inscription by Chikubōsai: »I adapted
dle base cleverly incorporating bamboo rhizome
a basket with a handle into the form of an ancient
sections as supports. The rim of the body is plaited
arrow and have made a new style of flower basket«,
with fancy ring-looping; the four side are plaited
dated by him to an autumn day of the 2601st year
along the top and bottom in the gozami ami mat-
of our empire (= 1941) and signed Chikubōsai kore
pattern, supported in the middle by five rows of
tsukuru »Chikubōsai made this« with a square red
cross-plaiting; the square bottom is plaited with
seal mark reading Chikubōsai.
split bamboo in the yottsume ami square pattern
and supported diagonally by two bamboo strips.
For a very similar basket by Chikubōsai see Nihon
One of these bottom supports bears the incised
Keizai Shinbun, Inc., ed. Bamboo Masterworks:
signature »Chikubōsai kore tsukuru« or »Chikubōsai
Japanese Baskets from the Lloyd Cotsen Collection.
made this«
Tokyo: Nihon Keizai Shinbun, Inc., 2003, item 33
on page 68.
Since Chikubōsai used old arrows and bamboo
material for the basket, the basket had a beautiful
Shōwa period (1926 – 89), circa 1940
Little is known about this skilled artist; we only
H 23" × W 11"
know that he was active in the early Shōwa period.
(58.5 cm × 28.8 cm)
Ikebana flower basket, bamboo and rattan
For a basket with a similar combination of plaiting
Signed: Kyokushōsai saku
patterns by Chikuryōsai, see Nihon Keizai Shinbun,
»Made by Kyokushōsai«
Inc., ed. Bamboo Masterworks: Japanese Baskets
from the Lloyd Cotsen Collection. Tokyo: Nihon
This fine ikebana basket shows off the artist’s skill
in mastering several beautiful plaiting patterns. The
middle band around the body has the distinctive
chidori ami or plover plaiting, using very fine bamboo strips which cross the surface diagonally. These
fine strips form delicate crosses, which resemble
tiny bird tracks on sand, hence the name. Above
this band the artist plaited bamboo in the Seikai ami
or wave plaiting pattern and below in the similar
matsuba ami or pine needle plaiting pattern.1
The tall elegant handle is unusual in the fact that
no bamboo is exposed, being entirely covered by
plaited rattan.
The basket is signed with an incised signature
reading Kyokushōsai saku or made by Kyokushōsai.
Keizai Shinbun, Inc., 2003, item 86 on page 113
Cicada Flower Vessel
Meiji period (1868 –1912), circa 1900
The basket is a karamono-utsushi or Chinese-style
H 2 ¾" × L 8 ¾" × W 4 ¾"
basket. It was made by a skilled Japanese basket
(7 cm × 22.5 cm × 12 cm)
maker to simulate a formal Chinese basket and was
Ikebana flower vessel, bamboo, rattan and iron
most likely used in Japan for displaying flowers at
the Chinese-style sencha tea ceremony. In the late
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Chinese
Bamboo and rattan flower basket in the shape of a
art and the Chinese-style sencha tea ceremony
cicada. The cicada body is made with rattan, which
were very popular among the Japanese, and, as a
was plaited in the gozame ami mat-pattern. The
result, Chinese-style baskets were highly sought
delicate wings are plaited with very thin strips of
after. As the Chinese prototypes were unsigned, the
bamboo in the ajiro ami twill pattern and reinforced
Japanese karamono-utsushi baskets, such as this
with other rattan strips along the edges. The back
one, were generally also purposely left unsigned.
of the body has an elaborate decoration of rattan
However, bamboo artists who had attained fame,
strips, the legs are made of bamboo, rattan and
such as Chikuunsai I and Chikubōsai I, signed all
metal, the eyes of iron. It has an attractive patina
their works, including their karamono utsushi.
throughout. Designed for hanging on the wall, it
has a rattan hook on the back and comes with an
otoshi bamboo tube to hold water and flowers.
It has the original fitted kiri-wood box, which bears
a label reading »Semi hanaire« or »Cicada Flower
The basket was intended for use during the summer,
when cicadas could be seen on vertical objects
such as trees and the sides of houses. The visual joke
of seeing the basket cicada hang on a wall or pillar
within the tea room would not have been lost on
the participants.
Iizuka Rōkansai (1890 –1958)
Shōwa period (1926 – 89), circa 1941
The basket is in the shape of a leaf-gathering scoop,
H 3 ¼" × L 11 ¼" × W 13"
associating it for the Japanese with the autumn
(8.5 cm × 28.5 cm × 33 cm)
season when they collect fallen leaves with similarly-
Ikebana flower basket, bamboo and wood
shaped tools. As the Japanese are highly conscious
Signed Rōkansai
of the seasons, this flower basket was used most
likely only during the autumn weeks, when leaves
Rōkansai plaited this flower vessel in a variation of
were falling, and then packed away safely in its box
the yottsume ami square pattern using light-colored
during the rest of the year.
bamboo. The shiny outer surface of the bamboo is
facing up except for four strips in each direction,
It comes with its original fitted tomobako box, which
which face down so that he could incise his signature
is made the way Rōkansai usually ordered, of sugi-
onto a shiny surface, and so that the shiny strips
wood with beveled edges. It is inscribed on the
would be symmetrical. The basket is held together
outside and signed on the inside »Rōkansai saku«
into its shape with a wood branch, which has been
or »made by Rōkansai«; and sealed »Rōkansai.« The
split to facilitate bending and which is held together
signature and the red oval seal are consistent with
to the basket with narrow bamboo straps. The
those illustrated for 1936 – 49 in Iizuka Rōkansai:
bamboo strips and the distance between them are
Master of Modern Bamboo Crafts (Tochigi Prefec-
purposely of varying widths. These factors make
tural Museum of Fine Arts, 1989), pages 118 –19.
the basket appear rustic and simply made, even
though every detail was in fact carefully planned by
For a very similar basket entitled »Minori« or
the great master. The branch ridge is of a contrast-
»Harvest«, see Rōkansai: Master of Modern
ing dark brown color, as is the bamboo otoshi
Bamboo Crafts (Tochigi Prefectural Museum of
flower holder, which has been shaved around the
Fine Arts, 1989), item 63 on page 92, dated
outside and applied with dark brown lacquer on
to circa 1941.
all surfaces. The incised signature on the bottom of
the basket reads Rōkansai.
Rōkansai is widely acknowledged as the greatest
Japanese basket maker of the twentieth century.
The sixth son of the basket maker Hōsai I, he started out making intricate baskets in the karamonostyle but went on to develop many new ideas and
techniques. He pioneered modern bamboo crafts
and exerted great influence on numerous post-war
bamboo artists. His works are in the collections
of many institutions, including the Tokyo National
Museum of Modern Art and the Idemitsu Museum
of Art.
Shigaraki Jar
Muromachi period (1392 –1573), 15th century
the outlines of the coils used to form the vessel
H 20", D 16 ½"
can still be discerned, and there are unevenness
(50.5 cm, 42 cm)
and imbalance within the structure of the jar.
Shigaraki ware; stoneware with
natural ash glaze
This type of large rustic jar built on a monumental
scale were created at a number of kilns in me-
This imposing Shigaraki jar has the features trea-
dieval Japan. Such jars were made for utilitarian
sured by Japanese collectors: a large tapered body
purposes, for the storage of food, seeds, and
with strong shoulder and flared neck; copious
other objects, and were a common feature of the
»wet« glaze running down the side; and exciting
Japanese landscape. The Shigaraki pottery district
surface details and colors. The glaze ranges in color
became one of the main producers of the jars, due
from olive-brown to green and in character from
to its proximity to major population centers and to
the glossy, translucent, and crackled on the side to
its bountiful supplies of clay and pine, which were
the matte, rough, and sandy on the shoulder. The
the two necessary items for the production. The
body is reddish-brown, ranging from rich dark to
jars were sold widely to farmers, merchants, and
lighter hues. The clay has a large number of feldspar
religious institutions.1 The kiln was by all accounts
and quartz inclusions, some of which have partially
a success and has stayed a major producer of ce-
melted and formed droplets on the surface. In
ramic goods, even down to the twenty-first century.
other places the stone inclusions have caused the
clay surface to burst and break off, forming jagged
Early jars from this area, such as this one, embody
patterns. The shoulder shows numerous traces of
a sense of austere beauty and virtuosic display of
the sand and pebbles that fell from the kiln roof
surface detail. Here we see many spectacular ef-
of the primitive anagama or »hole kiln« during the
fects, such as firing spots, stone inclusions, natural
firing process. There it mixed with the liquid glaze,
ash-glaze dripping, cracks, minor explosions, de-
partially hindering its flow down the side of the jar.
bris dropped from the kiln roof, and various melted
Although the vessel had been turned on a rudi-
minerals. The Shigaraki clay contained minerals,
mentary potter’s wheel—we see the traces around
pebbles, and other impurities, which would come
the center of the vessel and in the neck area—
to the surface during potting. During firing they
would expand and contract at different rates than
the clay, thereby forming minor cracks and bursts
in the surface of the jar. The natural glaze produced
during firing was the result of the burning of pine,
the ashes of which would settle on the object
and turn into a glaze when a certain temperature
was reached. The present jar has extensive glaze
deposits on the neck and body of one side; this
was the side that faced the fire. The sheer quantity
of glaze indicates that there were no other objects
in front of it to deflect the ash; in fact, the jar may
have been on the first line of objects to be fired.
Bizen Shallot Flask
Momoyama-Edo periods, early 17th century
rough and scarred flavor. The bottom of the flask
H 11", D 6 ½"
reveals a potter’s mark, a common feature in early
(28 cm, 16.5 cm)
Bizen area vessels: as the firing of Bizen clay was a
Bizen ware; stoneware
lengthy and costly affair, the kilns were communal
and were typically fired only twice a year. Due to
Like the Shigaraki kiln, Bizen kilns have an early
the large number of objects and potters, each pot-
origin in Japan’s ceramic history, going back to
ter left special marks on their vessels to distinguish
at least the 12th century. Bizen became famous
their works. Much research has been done to link
for its unusual clay, which has a high iron content
certain marks to specific periods and potters.1
and needs to be fired for a longer time than others.
The resulting stoneware is easily identified: the
This kind of Bizen flask is called rakkyō, or shallot,
color is reddish-brown, the surface is glossy, and
due to its shape. Shallot flasks were used for sake
the burning marks are more pronounced than in
and were popular in the early 17th century and
the pottery of other kilns. Due to the ease in creating
a number of similar examples are extant.2 In fact,
various burn marks, the potters of the area became
there are more examples of sake flasks from Bizen
adept at producing them, by for example wrapping
than from any other kiln of the time. This is partly
objects in straw or seaweed or by placing objects
because the Bizen kilns were blessed with an excel-
close to another during firing, resulting in interesting
lent transportation system: based close to the Seto
surface patterns.
Inland Sea, the objects were easily transported by
boat widely across the coasts of Japan. Further-
This particular flask is no exception and features a
more, the smooth surface of the objects, the rela-
lively surface action, including a number of mineral
tive heaviness of the clay, and the high firing and
inclusions, starbursts, cracking, traces of natural
density of the clay were all factors contributing to
ash, and various burn marks. It is heavy with a low
their popularity. The surface and clay features also
center of gravity and the surface color ranges from
kept the sake from seeping out through the clay, a
red and dark brown to olive green. Whereas the
fact that was not lost on the sake-lovers of the time.
elegantly formed neck and mouth show traces of the
potter’s wheel, the rest of the flask surface has a
Okugōrai Tea Bowl
Momoyama-Edo periods, early 17th century
large gold lacquer repair that joined three broken
H 3 ¼", D 6 ¼"
sections of the bowl. Judging from the wear and
(8.5 cm, 16 cm)
slight shrinkage of the lacquer, the repairs go back
Karatsu ware; stoneware with feldspar glaze
at least a century.
Box inscriptions:
The Karatsu kiln has its origins back in the fifteenth
(top:) Karamono Ido tea bowl 唐物井戸 茶碗
century, but did not achieve fame until the end of
(side:) Number 104, Ido 第百四号 井戸 the sixteenth century, when Korean potters were
Seal: Mitsu 光
forcibly resettled in the area after Hideyoshi’s invasions of the Korean Peninsula. The Korean potters
This fine large tea bowl from the Karatsu kiln has a
brought with them expertise in seeking out the
number of interesting features. The form, first of all,
right clays, high technical skills, and knowledge of
is based on earlier bowls from the Korean Penin-
Korean ceramic objects. This proved to be an irre-
sula, in particular on the Ido type. The bowl looks
sistible combination for the tea-ceremony-crazed
plain and undecorated, but is actually carefully
daimyō for whom Korean tea bowls such as the Ido
thought out in detail and anything but spontane-
type became models for the bowls created at the
ous. A creamy feldspar glaze has been applied in
revitalized Japanese kilns, such as the Karatsu.
different thicknesses onto the reddish-brown clay
body, resulting in variations of hues, as well as in
At Karatsu they did this exceedingly well. In fact,
dripping and pooling effects. A drop of glaze was
the bowls created here in the early seventeenth
let into the foot and turned 180 degrees. Depend-
century were so well made that they are some-
ing on the thickness of the glaze, the crackling
times hard to distinguish from those made on the
ranges from small to large, resulting in an interest-
mainland. The present bowl is a case in point, for
ing visual pattern. Paradoxically, rusticity and spon-
the box belonging to the bowl has been mistakenly
taneity were the effects sought after in creating
inscribed »Ido« by two different collectors, one
this vessel. The bowl has undergone the ravages
with a seemingly large collection of tea utensils (as
of time, and there are small gold lacquer repairs
this forms number 104 of his or her collection).
of chips and hairlines along the rim, as well as a
The differences are, in this case, the lack of the
iconic Ido-type crackling of glaze near the foot of
this bowl (though an approximation was attempted
with the varied layering of glaze), the lack of glaze
within the whole foot (again, glaze was let run
around, but not enough), the number of spur marks
(three here but four or more in the Ido), and the
shape of the foot (in this case, too deliberate).1 In
fact, it is better not to see this tea bowl as a mere
»copy« of a Korean tea bowl, but as an independent
achievement on its own. As such this striking work
of a highly skilled and inventive potter should be
celebrated as a great work of the Karatsu Okugōrai
type, created in response to Korean ingenuity and
Japanese tea ceremony aesthetics.
Kōgō Incense Box
Distant Landscape, without Compare「永景無比」
Momoyama-Edo periods, early 17th century
of cross-linked lines on the top simulates textiles,
H 1 ½", D 2 ½"
a common feature among tea ceremony objects of
(3.9 cm, 6.2 cm)
the time.1 The glaze is translucent with small and
Mino ware, Shino-Oribe type; glazed stoneware
large crackles. A number of similar objects and
designs from the early seventeenth century can be
Fitted kiri-wood box.
found in literature.2
Box inscription: Shino Oribe kōgō 志野織部香合
Box label:
Raised droplets of glaze on the rims of the cover
名蓋書附 志野織部香 小文字 舟越伊予守 永景
and of the box indicate the »front« of the object,
無比 もの也 卯二年 文月 古筆了信 琴山
the determining of which is important in the tea
»With label reading: »Shino oribe incense box«
ceremony, where the positioning of the object in
Belonged to Funakoshi Iyonokami and with the
relation to its front (and back) is integral to the cer-
emony rituals. Likewise important was the naming
»Distant landscapes, without compare (Eikei muhi).«
of the tea objects.3 According to the box label, this
Dated 7th month of the second year
object was given the name »Eikei muhei,« meaning
(of Shōwa = 1927). Kohitsu Ryōshin.«
»distant landscape, without compare,« a name
With »Kinzan« seal.
that indicates the paradox of the tea ceremony,
where practitioners experience in a small room the
This fine incense box was made in the Mino area
timeless and boundless ideal of tea—with William
north of Nagoya in response to orders from tea
Blake, »to see a world in a grain of sand and a
masters during the highpoint of the tea ceremony
heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of
culture in the early seventeenth century. The round
your hand and eternity in an hour.« 4 In this sense,
box was carefully formed on the potter’s wheel,
it is precisely the smallness of the object that gives
leaving tell-tale traces on the inside and on the
it a sense of infinity in viewing a distant landscape.5
finely formed circular foot. Likewise, the striking
The name was probably also, at least partly, intended
concentric iron-oxide lines, two on the bottom half
as a joke: a grand name placed on a very small
and four on the upper, were applied by brush while
the object was turning on the wheel. The pattern
This incense box has been connected with two great
connoisseurs in the history of Japanese art working
centuries apart from each other. On the early
end is the great tea master Funakoshi Nagakage
(1597 –1670), also called Funakoshi Iyonokami.
A follower of Sen no Rikyū, he was active in the
Tokugawa shogunate as a tea master. According to
the box label, the incense box was in the collection
of Funakoshi, who also gave it its name. The other
expert is Kohitsu Ryoshin (1876 –1953), the last
member of the Kyoto branch of the great Kohitsu
line of calligraphy connoisseurs, famous for their
Kinzan seals (also seen on this label). From the
Meiji period the succeeding heads branched into
other forms of connoisseurship, including ceramics.
Ryōshibako with conch
Meiji period (1868 –1912), 19th century
crickets in minute details, done entirely in takamakie
H 4 ¾" × L 15 ¾" × W 12 ½"
black lacquer. The inside surfaces are decorated
(12.3cm × 40.1 cm × 31.6 cm)
with okibirame,—individually inlaid flakes of gold
leaf—and the edges are in kinji gold lacquer.
Box inscription: takamakie akikusa hanazu bunko
The autumnal scene is described with the following
plants, flowering in the late summer and early
Large rectangular ryōshibako box for writing paper,
autumn: nadeshiko (wild pink), hagi (bush clover),
decorated on the outside with a conch horn in
susuki (eulalia), kuzu (arrowroot), and kikyō (bell-
takamakie high-relief gold lacquer with togidashi
flower), among others.
details in silver black and red lacquers and an
inlaid solid silver mouth piece. The conch horn is
The tasseled conch horn refers to the Yamabushi,
placed on a ground of very fine sprinkled nashiji
Japanese ascetic mountain priests who regularly
lacquer, applied on all surfaces. The simple out-
use such horns in religious rituals. The Yamabushi
side decoration scheme is contrasted with a lavish
perform major rituals in the autumn, for example
scene on the lid interior: five bell crickets gambol
during the Dewa Sanzan pilgrimage, and have long
amid a luxurious profusion of fall grasses and flow-
been associated with nature in the Japanese
ers. All imaginable lacquer techniques are used in
mountainsides. Thus a connection can be made
the highly detailed and naturalistic rendering of
between the outside and inside of the box.
the autumn scene: takamakie high-relief leaves and
rocks with mosaics of inlaid kirigane gold foil piec-
Furthermore, the box is a good example of the
es, the flowers in several hues of gold in takamakie
uramasari aesthetics in Japanese art. The term,
and hiramakie lacquer, the elderberry blossoms
which can be translated »hidden decoration« or
with a nashiji base and gold details on top, and the
literally »inner victory,« was originally used for
textiles. From the outside, a piece of clothing (e.g.
haori) could look simple, but when opened, would
reveal a complex, luxurious design. This is often a
characteristic in many fields of Japanese art,
including architecture: the artist hides the more
intricate and skillfully created sections from the
outside viewer and the inner riches are revealed
only upon entering the inner space. In the case of
the lacquer box, the relative simplicity of the
outside design was probably created in order to
increase the sense of delight upon seeing the inner
complexities. The cover with its slightly puzzling
object (what could be connected to a conch?)
might have been designed as a provocation to the
viewer—who would then open up and be dazzled
by the luxurious splendor of the autumn scene.
Suzuribako with wisteria and
full moon
Taishō-Shōwa periods, 1920s
the inside cover. On either side of the ink stone are
H 2" × L 10" × W 9"
rests for brushes and other writing tools, decorated
(5 cm × 25.2 cm × 22.7 cm)
with gold lacquer plants. The overall effect is of
refined and controlled luxury.
Box inscription: »Writing Box« 硯箱
»Box number 56« 第硯ノ五十六号.
The plants appearing on this writing box are care-
Seal: Chō 長
fully selected in order to fit a certain season, as is
often the case in Japanese works of art. The cover
This exceptional suzuribako writing box has been
is decorated with wisteria, which flowers during the
decorated with blooming wisteria in various shades
fourth month of the Japanese calendar. The plants
of takamakie relief gold lacquer, which varies in
on the insides of the box also flower at this time;
hue from green to reddish brown. The wisteria
however, the artist decided to show only the leaves
leaves and blossoms appear on a bokashi ground
and not the flowers of these plants, possibly to
of sprinkled gold powder, which gradates from
create a contrast with the rich, flowering wisteria on
almost solid gold to faint sprinkles of gold dust on
the exterior. The plants shown are the mabushigusa,
mirror-black. The wisteria design continues down
a plant of the wild potato genus, the long stems
the sides, imparting a luxurious three-dimensional
of the umanoashigata, and the fine patterns of the
motif to the writing box.
nemunoki leaves. All plants live in the wild, in the
forests of late spring, and the artist has presented
On opening the lid, the viewer is met by a striking
a nicely calibrated contrast between the public
depiction of the full moon, created in the togidashi
display of the wisteria on the cover of the box and
lacquer technique. The silver full moon is contrasted
the inner private and poetic walk at night, through
with several bright gold takamakie leaves of various
the forest path lit by the full moon.
late spring plants, appearing against a roiro deep
black ground. The suzuri ink stone is covered with
The rims of the writing box are fitted with bands of
thick gold lacquer on its top and sides and with
solid silver and its bottom is sprinkled with fine
nashiji gold flakes on the bottom. The gold lacquer
nashiji gold flakes. It comes complete with its original
ink stone and the accompanying solid silver suiteki
protective outer box, featuring an inventory label
water dropper with its rectangular beveled edges,
from the collector.
creatively echo the interplay of gold and silver on
Suzuribako with chrysanthemums
Kiitsu 淇一 (ac. early 20th century)
Meiji-Taishō periods, 1910s
is gilt on the top edges and decorated in nashiji
H 1 ½" × L 8 ½" × W 7 ¼"
gold flakes on its other sides.
(3.7 cm × 21.4 cm × 18.3 cm)
On the inside lid, the chrysanthemum are rendered
Box inscription, outside: On-suzuribako, kiku makie
against a bamboo fence in takamakie raised gold
御硯箱 菊蒔絵 (»Venerable writing box, chrysanthe-
lacquer with fine details in inlaid kirigane gold foil
mum gold lacquer«)
pieces on a bokashi gold powder and nashiji gold
Box inscription, inside: Kiitsu 淇一
flake ground. The inside and the bottom of the
with seal, Kiitsu 淇一
box are with evenly sprinkled nashiji gold flakes;
the outside surfaces continue the decoration from
The viewer is faced with a veritable symphony on
the lid top. Silver rims enclose this fine rectangular
the theme of chrysanthemums, both outside and
lacquer box.
inside the box.
The chrysanthemum enjoys a number of symThe artist has highlighted his many skills in making
bolic meanings in East Asia. The one that is refer-
this superb writing box. The cover of the box is
eed to here is surely the Chinese poet Tao Qian
decorated with two groups of chrysanthemums
(365 – 427), who described, in a famous poem, the
with numerous flowers and buds, presented in
chrysanthemum growing along his garden hedge,
takamakie high-relief gold lacquer in two tones.
a motif that became a symbol for the poet. In this
The leaves and the center of the flowers are
lacquer box we see Tao Qian’s flowers, recreated
adorned with many inlaid squares of kirigane gold
1500 years after his death—perhaps as a tribute to
foil. The flowers are placed on a bokashi ground
the poet by the lacquer artist.
that gradates from almost solid gold to faint
sprinkles of gold powder on a roiro mirror-black
The writing box comes with its original kiri-wood
ground. Inside the box is an elaborate remov-
tomobako box which is inscribed on the top and
able tray that holds the suzuri ink stone and the
signed on the inside by the artist Kiitsu with his
lozenge-shaped silver suiteki water dropper in a
hexagonal seal. Lacquer scholarship has yet to find
chrysanthemum form—a finely chased work with a
biographical material on this outstanding artist,
gilt center. The tray has two pairs of bridges to
who created his masterful appreciation of the
support the ink brushes, and the suzuri ink stone
chrysanthemum flower.
Suzuribako with cranes
Taishō-Shōwa periods, 1920s
The cranes depicted on the cover of the box are
H 2 ¼" × L 9 ½" × W 8 ¾"
Nabezuru or Hooded Cranes (Grus monacha), a
(5.5 cm × 24.3 cm × 22.2 cm)
type of crane that spends its summers in Siberia
and reappears in Japan, Korea, and China during
A suzuribako writing box with a cover decoration
the winters. Arriving in the winter, it has become
of five cranes by a meandering stream; the cranes,
one of many symbols of the New Year, along with
four adults and one chick are shown in brightly
the rising sun, young pine seedlings, and the
polished takamakie relief gold lacquer in three
flowering plum, all of which are included within the
different shades with hiramakie details on a roiro
design of this lacquer box. The New Year symbols
mirror-black ground. The clouds are rendered
indicate renewal, a steadfastness of purpose, and
with nashiji and makibokashi details using very fine
auspicious beginnings. All these can be seen in the
gold powder, and the stream is crafted in togidashi
depiction of the cranes, where the idea of renewal
gold lacquer.
is literally shown with a newly born chick, protected
by the adults around it. Thus a wish for healthy
The inside of the writing box is depicted with a
offspring accompanies the seasonal message,
design of a flowering plum tree and young pine
conferring the writing box with numerous happy
seedlings in takamakie with kirigane inlays and
striking mother-of-pearl inlays. A removable tray
holds the original suzuri ink stone, the rim of which
It is likely that this writing box was used at New
is ornately decorated in the oki-birame technique
Year, perhaps in the ceremony of kakizome, an
with individually inlaid pieces of gold foil, and the
important ritual for calligraphers performed on the
original mixed-metal suiteki water dropper in the
second day of the New Year. In this ceremony, the
shape of the rising sun, partially hidden by clouds.
calligrapher would be seated facing in an auspi-
The inside and the bottom are decorated with
cious direction, and, after opening his or her writ-
evenly sprinkled nashiji gold flakes and the rims
ing box, would write out a Japanese waka poem
with kinji gold lacquer.
with appropriately promising content.
Suzuribako in half-moon shape
Taishō period (1912 – 26), 1920s
The decoration has a number of finer references
H 1 ¼" × L 9 ¼" × W 6 ¼"
that are not obvious at first glance. A reference is
(3.3 cm × 23.5 cm × 15.8 cm)
made to the Chinese historical annals of the Jin
dynasty (265 – 420 AD), which describe two virtuous
Box inscription:
but poor young men who educated themselves
keisetsu ōdoku no zu 蛍雪横読之図
by reading texts at night after work, the one using
(»picture of reading by fireflies and snow«),
the reflection of the moon on the snow and the
hantsuki gata 半月形 (»half-moon shape«),
other capturing fourteen fireflies in a bag in order
shinken 真硯 (»genuine inkstone«).
to read Confucian texts, as both were too poor to
With seal: Rinrō 鈴琅
light oil lanterns. In due time, both men became
high officials and the term keisetsu 蛍雪 (literally
An elegant suzuribako writing box in a half moon
»fireflies and snow«) became a term for learning in
shape, decorated on the cover with poetry books
spite of difficulties.
and numerous fireflies, some trapped inside a
Japanese washi paper bag and some flying freely.
The decoration refers to this story, but places it
The decoration is done in hiramakie gold and silver
within a Japanese context. The book is decorated
lacquers on a roiro mirror-black lacquer ground.
with the title of an early Japanese poetry anthol-
The fireflies are in black and red lacquer with inlaid
ogy, the Manyōshū, and a poem written in Japanese
mother-of-pearl. The book of poetry is decorated in
kana style is partially visible. The flower on the
takamakie raised flowers, while the book title and
cover is the nadeshiko, a summer flower, placing
spine are created in togidashi lacquer, the flowers
this image into the correct seasonal context. The
on a ground of very fine nashiji gold flakes. Refer-
joke is that instead of reading the difficult Confucian
ences to the moon continue on the inside of the
classics, the modern Japanese reader is now
writing box with a silver moon-shaped suiteki water
perusing love poetry.
dropper, as well as the silver lacquer that is applied
on the rims of the suzuri ink stone. The rims of the
There is, however, one more layer of meaning in
box are in pewter and the inside and bottom of the
addition to the story clearly depicted on the cover
suzuribako are decorated with sprinkles of nashiji
of the writing box. We may recall that the original
gold flakes.
Chinese story was a story about two men, and that
the term keisetsu (the term written on the outer
box) refers to both their reading methods. The artist has in fact cleverly combined both stories into
this writing box: we see the story of the fireflies on
the cover, but the second story—that of reading
under the moon—becomes obvious only when we
open the box and see the moon-shaped water
dropper. One then sees that the two halves of the
writing box themselves form the shape of the
moon, nearly identical in form to the water dropper,
and the intentions of the artist become clear.
Tebako with Pine Cones
Shōwa period (1926 – 89), dated 1929
The lengthy inscription inside the box was the project
H 5" × L 11 ¼" × W 9 ¼"
of an older Japanese intellectual, Shōsho Dōjin,
(12.8 cm × 28.4 cm × 23.5 cm)
who starts his text with a long essay on the virtues
of the orchid, »Essay on Loving the Orchid«.
Inner inscription: lengthy inscription written by
It starts with the words:
Shōsho Dōjin 松処道人, or Dōryo 道亮, the latter
name also appearing in a seal. The orchid painting
»I have heard that Yuanming (Tao Qian) loved the
by the artist Takemaro 武麿, with seal Rankō 蘭岡
chrysanthemum and that Lianxi (Zhou Dunyi) loved
the lotus.1 But I have yet to hear of someone who
A striking black lacquer tebako box for the tea
loved the orchid.«
ceremony with surface decoration in hiramakie
gold lacquer, inlaid pewter and mother-of-pearl
The text goes on to make a case for the appreciation
inlays depicting pine seedlings and pine cones.
of the orchid, concluding with two autobiographi-
The decoration of pines continues from the top of
cal notes. The first describes a moment during the
the rectangular box down its gently rounded and
youth of the author, when he traveled back to his
tapered sides. The inside cover is decorated with
hometown to plant an orchid with the hope that it
flowering orchids in two tones of hiramakie gold
would enrich him in his business ventures. At this
lacquer with an extensive calligraphic inscription.
time he also wrote the aforementioned essay. Now,
almost fifty years later in celebration of the New
This particular work constitutes a fine example of
Year 1929, he asked the artist Takemaro to draw an
work from the early years of the Shōwa period,
orchid and write out his old essay, dedicating
when Japanese artists were strongly influenced by
the lacquer box to the »eternal fascination« of the
the Art Deco movement. At the time, many artists
experimented with ways to combine traditional
Japanese themes with the new ideas from abroad.
The essayist and his painter friend were probably
News of this international movement was eagerly
members of the same cultural salon, where mem-
reported by art journals at the time, which illus-
bers typically engaged in collaborative events such
trated objects from the West, and by actual objects
as composing poetry and brushing calligraphy
brought into and exhibited in Japan.
and paintings The lacquer box was likely displayed
at an event held at the New Year of 1929, and
celebrated as the collaboration between members
of the group. The essayist likely commissioned the
work from a lacquer artist, who incorporated the work
of the two salon members into this elegant New
Year object. Little is known of the true identity of
either member, as both chose to use playful artist
names. It is certain, however, that the box they
created was no isolated example of the rich and
varied cultural activities that took place in Japan
during the early twentieth century during the
Taishō and Shōwa periods.2
The tebako comes with the original fitted kiri-wood
box with an label on the inside lid.
Signatures and Seals
Reproduced actual size
Nr. 3 Left
Nr. 3 Right
Nr. 2
Nr. 4
Nr. 5
Nr. 5
Nr. 7
Nr. 6
Nr. 8
Nr. 11
Nr. 9
Nr. 10
Nr. 12
Nr. 12
Nr. 12
Nr. 13
Nr. 15
Nr. 14
Nr. 15
Nr. 16
Nr. 30
Nr. 18
Nr. 17
Nr. 20
Box Inscriptions
Reproduced half size except as noted
Nr. 9
¹∕³ size
Nr. 9
¹∕¹ size
Nr. 6
Nr. 15
¼ size
Nr. 12
Nr. 13
Nr. 15
¹∕³ size
Nr. 17
Nr. 15
¼ size
Nr. 20
Nr. 19
¹∕¹ size
Nr. 18
¹∕³ size
Nr. 23
¹∕¹ size
Nr. 26
¹∕¹ size
Nr. 25
¼ size
Nr. 27
Nr. 29
¹∕¹ size
Nr. 1 Flowering Wisteria
7 The influence of Sekka must have been substantial, as Seika chose the same path in life, creating
1 Nakajima Junshi, et al., Nihon byōbue shūsei
modern designs that crossed over into different
日本屏風絵集成. Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1980, Vol. 7,
genres. See Donald Wood, Kurt Gitter, et al.,
page 111, cat nrs. 11 and 12.
Kamisaka Sekka: Rimpa Master, Pioneer of Modern
Design. Birmingham and Kyoto: Birmingham Mu-
2 See also ibid., cat nr.9 for the pair of wisteria
seum of Art and National Museum of Modern Art
screens signed by Hasegawa Sōen (fl. 17th century).
Kyoto, 2003.
8 Published in Kokumin Bijutsu Kyōkai 國民美術協会,
Nr. 2 Yamaga Seika, Painting of a Cuckoo
ed., Kokumin Bijutsu Kyōkai daiikkai seibu tenrankai
kessakushū 國民美術協会第一回西部展覧会傑作集.
1 See also Hosono Masanobu 細野正信, ed., Bunten,
Tokyo: Kokumin Bijutsu Kyōkai 國民美術協会, 1913.
Teiten, Shinbunten, Nitten: Zenshuppin mokuroku
文展・帝展・新文展・日展:全出品目録. Tokyo: Nitten
9 The present pair of screens marks the very first
日展, 1990, vol. 2, 17, for references to this painting
acceptance into national exhibitions. His list of exhibitions includes the Bunten, Teiten, Nitten and a
2 For information on the Cuckoo, see Mark Brazil,
number of other expositions. See Hosono Masanobu
The Birds of Japan. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian
細野正信, ed., Bunten, Teiten, Shinbunten, Nitten:
Institution Press, 1991, 176 – 7
Zenshuppin mokuroku 文展・帝展・新文展・日展:全
出品目録. Tokyo: Nitten 日展, 1990, vol. 1, 115.
3 Uki ware o sabishigarase yo, kankodori. From the
Narrow Road to the Interior (oku no hosomichi).
10 He also took part in the 1922 exposition in Paris.
Translation by Sam Hamill, Narrow Road to the
See Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Exposition
Interior: And Other Writings. New York: Shambhala,
D’Art Japonais: Salon de la Société Nationale des
Beaux-Arts. Catalogue des Ouvres Moderne de
Peinture, Sculpture, Arts Décoratifs et les Oeuvres
4 Shinbi Shoin 審美書院. Monbusho daigaokai
Anciennes. Paris: Éditions de l’Abeille d’Or, 1922), 37.
bijutsu tenrankai zuroku 文部省第五回美術展覧会図録.
Tokyo: Shinbi Shoin 審美書院, 1911.
11 Two of his publications focus on textile design:
Mukashi watari sarasa 昔渡更紗. 3 vols. Geisōdō 芸
5 See, Stedelijk Museum, Stedelijke internationale
艸堂, 1917 (reissued fifty year later in one volume
tentoonstelling van kunstwerken van levende
as: Mukashi watari sarasa むかし渡更紗. Geisōdō
meesters: catalogus (Catalog: The Stedelijk Interna-
芸艸堂, 1967); and Teorinishiki: Yamaga Seika
tional Art Exhibition of Living Masters). Amsterdam:
sakuhinshū 手織錦・山鹿清華作品集. Mitsurinsha
Stedelijk Museum, 1912.
Shuppan 光琳社出版, 1972
6 For biographical information on this artist, refer
to the major retrospective catalog from 1985: Kyoto
City Museum 京都市美術館 and Asahi Shimbunsha
朝日新聞社 , eds., Kindai senshoku no sōshisha:
Yamaga Seika ten 近代染織の創始者山鹿清華展.
Kyoto and Osaka: Kyoto City Bijutsukan 京都市美術
館 and Asahi Shinbunsha 朝日新聞社, 1985.
Nr. 3 Tsuji Kakō, Young Pines
Shōtaiten in 1936, and entered the wartime Senji
Tokubetsuten in 1944. For details, see Hosono Ma-
1 For biographical matter, see Michiyo Morioka,
sanobu 細野正信, ed., Bunten, Teiten, Shinbunten,
»A Reexamination of Tsuji Kakō’s Art and Career« in
Nitten: Zenshuppin mokuroku 文展・帝展・新文展・
Paul Berry and Michiyo Morioka, Modern Masters
日展:全出品目録. Tokyo: Nitten 日展, Heisei 2, vol.
of Kyoto: The Transformation of Japanese Painting
1, 30, and vol. 2 for painting titles.
Traditions, Nihonga from the Griffith and Patricia
Way Collection. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1999,
3 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, ed.
40 – 54. See also references in Ellen P. Conant, et
Official Catalogue, Illustrated, of the Department
al., Nihonga, Transcending the Past: Japanese Style
of Fine Art, Panama-Pacific International Exposition,
Painting, 1868 –1968. Saint Louis: The Saint Louis
San Francisco, California, 1915. San Francisco:
Art Museum and The Japan Foundation, 1995
Wahlgreen Co, 1915.
and Ōtsu City Museum of History 大津市歴史博物
館, ed. Shirarezaru Nihon kaiga 知られざる日本絵
4 Eugen Neuhaus was a professor in the Art De-
画 (English title: Unexplored Avenues of Japanese
partment of Berkeley and was, for over decades,
Painting). Seattle and Otsu: University of Washing-
a leading American critic on the arts. The quote
ton Press, Otsu City Museum of History 大津市歴史
comes from his The Galleries of the Exposition: A
博物館, 2001. An important recent contribution is
Critical Review of the Paintings, Statuary, & Graphic
the museum catalogue: The National Museum of
Arts in the Palace of Fine Arts. San Francisco, Paul
Modern Art, Kyoto 京都国立近代美術館 and Chikkyō
Elder and Company, 1915.
Art Museum, Kasaoka 笠岡市立竹喬美術館, eds.
Tsuji Kakō Exhibition 都路華香展. Kasaoka 笠岡and
Kyoto 京都: The National Museum of Modern Art,
Nr. 5 Hirai Baisen, Kyoto in the Winter
Kyoto 京都国立近代美術館 and Chikkyō Art Museum,
Kasaoka 笠岡市立竹喬美術館, 2006.
1 Later works have been criticized by contemporary
Japanese critics, who have characterized Baisen
2 This collection is depicted in Paul Berry and
as an artist who peaks early and then levels off to
Michiyo Morioka (1999)
mediocrity. In retrospect this criticism seems highly
undeserved, as the works of the mature artist are
3 See many examples in National Museum of
just as imaginative as the earlier, though not in an
Modern Art, Kyoto (2006); in Berry and Morioka
openly demonstrative manner. A reappraisal of the
(1999); Otsu (2001); and Conant (1995)
artist’s career and of his role in the twentieth century Nihonga movement are needed. For one thing,
his remarkable success in national exhibitions is
Nr. 4 Minakami Taisei, Melting of the Snow
hard to deny: his work was accepted into every
Teiten exhibition from the first to the very last and
1 For biographical information, see, for example,
into all but one Bunten exhibitions, twice with two
Roberts (1976), 106
entries. For short but useful biographies with paintings of this artist, see Ōtsu City Museum of History
2 He entered the Bunten from the seventh to the
大津市歴史博物館, ed. Shirarezaru Nihon kaiga 知
twelfth exhibitions, and entered the Teiten from
られざる日本絵画. Seattle and Ōtsu: University of
the third to the fifteenth exhibitions (except the
Washington Press, Ōtsu City Museum of History
eighth occasion). He entered the Shinbunten twice
大津市歴史博物館, 2001, 36, 124, 190; Paul Berry
(1n 1941 and 1943), was invited to the Bunten
and Michiyo Morioka, Modern Masters of Kyoto:
The Transformation of Japanese Painting Traditions,
Nr. 7 Itō Jakuen, Rooster on a Lantern
Nihonga from the Griffith and Patricia Way Collection.
Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1999, 270 – 3; and
1 Who appears in another entry in this catalog.
Roberts (1976), 43.
2 For the problem of Jakuen, see, for example,
2 An excellent example of this is his Burning of the
Tokyo (1971), Tsuji (1974), Satō (1987), Kyoto (2000),
Daibutsu, a screen that caused a sensation in 1910.
Kobayashi (1996), Shimizu (2006), and Hickman and
He also visited China in the 1910s and created a
Satō (1989).
number of impressive views that were based on his
3 For a newly-discovered large screen, see Kobayashi
3 Can be seen in: Yoshizawa Chū 吉沢忠, Yosa
Buson 与謝蕪村. Nihon bijutsu kaiga 日本美術絵画,
4 See Shimizu (2006), cat nrs. 22 – 26
vol 19. Tokyo: Shūeisha 集英社, 1980, nr. 29. See
also the recent catalogue from Miho Museum: Yosa
5 For example, Kano Hiroyuki suggests that, as the
Buson: On the Wings of Art, published in 2008 on
seal impressions of Jakuen show little wear, he
the occasion of the important retrospective exhibi-
might only have been active as a painter for a few
tion of the artist.
years. (See, Shimizu (2006), cat. nr. 23). The Jakuen
painting in this catalog, however, shows the same
4 See examples in McKelway, Matthew. Capitalscapes:
seals with significant added wear, seeming to place
Folding Screens and Political Imagination in Late Me-
this theory into doubt. As such this painting adds
dieval Kyoto. Honolulu: Hawaii University Press, 2006
valuable insight into future Jakuen research.
Nr. 6 Itō Jakuchū, Chicken by a New Year’s Cask
Nr. 8 Miyoshi Joka, Exotic Birds and Grapes
1 See Tokyo (1971) nrs. 26 – 31; and Kyoto (2000),
1 The birds are native to a large area of mainland
nrs. 9 –11 and 121. All date from the 1790s.
Asia, from the Himalayas to China and Vietnam.
They are not native to Japan, but were brought in
2 For details of Jakuchū’s life, see Satō and Hickman
as exotic birds during the Edo period.
2 See Urushiyama Tendō 漆山天童, Ukiyoe nenpyō
3 The poet, as with a number of other inscribers of
浮世絵年表. Tokyo: Fūzokuemaki Zuga Kankōkai風
Jakuchū’s circle, has not yet been identified. There
俗絵巻図画刊行会, 1934, page 173.
are also examples of Jakuchū’s paintings where
inscriptions are added quite a bit later, such as
3 For details, see Araki (1991), vol. 1, 812 and vol.
the painting in Kyoto (2000), nr. 68. This work was
2, 2134. The latter reference shows a confusion
bought in Kyoto, taken to Kyūshū, and then signed
of the present artist with an artist by the name of
by the Zen monk and painter Sengai.
Yokota Fukuan. See also Sawada (1970) 546.
4 Jakuchū had an unusual way of counting (and
4 See Satō Yasuhiro and Money Hickman, The
signing) his age as he grew older. For a theory on
Paintings of Jakuchū. New York: Asia Society Gallery,
this counting system, see Kano Hiroyuki’s introduc-
tory essay in Kyoto (2000)
Nr. 9 Hironaga / Sukenobu, Cuckoo in the Autumn
3 For information on the Maeda family, see ibid.,
vol. 5, 565
1 See, for example, Araki (1934), vol. 2, 2424. The
father’s name was Sakatani Hiromasa坂谷広当
Nr. 13 Nomura Bunkyo, The Moon in the Rain
2 See, Kokushi daijiten (1908), 464 – 5
1 For details, see, for example, Roberts (1976), 122;
3 For another scroll in the catalogue with a similar
Araki (1934) vol. 1, 232;
theme, see Nr. 11 Deer and Autumn Maples.
Nr. 14 Kōu, The Jōruri Chanter at a Puppet Theater
Nr. 10 Kano Seisen’in, Misty Cherry Blossoms
1 See Kendall Brown and Sharon Minichiello,
1 For biographical information, see, for example,
Taishō Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia, and
Roberts (1976), 140, and Araki (1934), 2069
Deco. Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2003
2 See, Ozaki Bansetsu, Kokon shoga Kantei hyōka
Nr. 11 Uchida Hirotsune, Deer and Autumn Maples
sōran. Kyoto: Rakuyō Bijitsusha, 1925, Part 4, 46
1 See, for example, Hyakunin issu, »The cry of the
3 A number of the painters in this catalogue have
stag / is so loud in the empty / mountains that an
not been identified, except for the information in
echo / answers him as though / it were a doe«
their signatures or seals. See, ibid., cat. nrs. 11, 13,
(Translation by Kenneth Rexroth)
15, and 33 – all which are identified with either just
first names or none at all.
2 For examples, see Howard Link, et al., Exquisite
Visions: Rimpa Paintings from Japan. Honolulu:
Aonolulu Academy of Arts, 1980.
Nr. 15 Yamamoto Gempō, Long Life
3 Araki Tadashi 荒木矩. Dai Nihon shoga meika daikan
1 For a biography of Yamamoto Gempō, see
大日本書画名家大監. 4 vols. Original ed.: 1934. To-
Stephen Addiss and Audrey Seo, The Art of Twen-
kyo: Dai-Ichi Shobō 第一書房, 1991, vol. 2, p. 2426
tieth-Century Zen: Painting and Calligraphy by
Japanese Masters. Boston and London: Shambhala,
1998, 93 –107.
Nr. 12 Fujiwara Hakuei, Successful Carps
1 For details of his life, see Shimonaka Kunihiko
Nr. 18 Kyokushōsai
下中邦彦, ed., Nihon jinmei jiten 日本人名辞典.
Tokyo: Heibonsha 平凡社, 1979, vol. 4, 513.
1 For an overview of plaiting techniques, see
Rinne, Melissa in collaboration with Koichiro Okada.
2 His works include the popular Noto meguri
Masters of Bamboo: Artistic Lineages in the Lloyd
能登めぐり and Tōyū nikki 東遊日記, two travel dia-
Cotsen Japanese Basket Collection. (San Francisco:
ries that included numerous haiku poems and were
Asian Art Museum, 2007), 130 – 4. A more complete
written in the style of Basshō’s poetry books, such
overview with 50 distinct patterns is illustrated and
as his famous travel diary Oku no hosomichi.
explained in Japanese in Nihon Keizai Shinbun,
Inc., ed. Bamboo Masterworks: Japanese Baskets
Nr. 24 Kōgō Incense Box, »Distant Landscape, with-
from the Lloyd Cotsen Collection. (Tokyo: Nihon
out Compare«
Keizai Shinbun, Inc., 2003), 130 – 8.
1 See numerous examples in Miyeko Murase, ed.,
Turning point: Oribe and the Arts of the Sixteenth
Nr. 21 Shigaraki Jar
Century. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art,
1 For similar examples of Shigaraki jars, see: Ford
and Impey (1989), 46 – 7; MOA Museum (1982),
2 See, for example, Tanikawa Tetsuzō and Kawabata
ills. 31– 5; Price (1987), 200 –1; Capon, et al. (1982),
Yasunari, eds. Shino. Nihon no tōji, vol. 2 (Tokyo:
126 – 7; and Earle, ed. (1986), 36 – 7
Chūō Kōronsha, 1974), nrs. 110 – 31.
3 See Yagi Ichio, »Uta-mei: The Poetic Names of Tea
Nr. 22 Bizen Shallot Flask
Utensils.« Chanoyu Quarterly 83 (1996), 16 – 40.
1 See, for example, Tanikawa Tetsuzō and Kawabata
4 From his »Auguries of Innocence« in the Pickering
Yasunari, eds. Bizen. Nihon no tōji, vol. 6 (Tokyo:
Chūō Kōransha, 1974), 119 – 44. The mark of the
present flask is close to number 173 depicted on
5 For a discussion of tea ceremony aesthetics, see
page 144.
Haga Kōshirō. »The Wabi Aesthetics throughout
the Ages,« in Tea In Japan: Essays on the History
2 See ibid, numbers 15 – 6, 183, and 185 – 6. Se also
of Chanoyu. Kumakura Isao and Paul Varley, eds.
Okada Shūei, ed. Bizen koyō shūsei. Tokyo: Sōjusha
Honolulu: Hawaii University Press, 1994, 195 – 230
Bijutsu Shuppan, 1983, nrs. 17, 65 – 7 and 79 – 80.
Nr. 30 Tebako with Pine Cones
Nr. 23 Okugōrai Tea Bowl
1 Tao Qian (365 – 427) who has been described in
1 For comparisons, see Ōhashi Kenji, et al.
an entry for another lacquer box, was a Chinese
»Tokushū: Shimijimi, Kogaratsu.« Rokushō 9 (1993),
poet who wrote about the chrysanthemum growing
6 –11, 25 – 8, and 64 – 8; Aichiken Tōji Shiryōkan
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Gakugeibu Gakugeika, ed. Momoyamatō no kareina
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sekai: Aichi Banpaku kinen tokubetsu kikakuten.
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(English title: Breaking the Mold—Birth of an
having said that the best life is that of a pure lotus
Original Style, Momoyama Ceramics 16 –17th Cen-
growing out of dirty water, and that the lotus is the
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Flowering Wisteria
Hasegawa School, anonymous artist
Detail, pair of six-panel folding screens (cat. nr. 1)
Edo period (1615 –1868), 18th century
Erik Thomsen 2009
Japanese Paintings and Works of Art
© 2009 Erik Thomsen
Photography: Cem Yücetas
Design and Production: Valentin Beinroth
Printing: Henrich Druck + Medien GmbH, Frankfurt am Main
Printed in Germany