Fine Japanese art and tea implements

"Eggplant" Hanging Scroll By Ōtagaki Rengetsu (Gassaku)

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Paintings: Pre 1900: Item # 1302200

Please refer to our stock # TRC1537 when inquiring.
Kyoto Ceramics and Fine Art
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Kamigamo District
Kyoto, Japan

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A symbol of health and prosperity, these ripe eggplants were painted by Hasegawa Gyokuhou (1822 - 1879), a disciple of one of Kyoto’s leading Shijo school artists, Matsumara Keibun (1779 - 1843). The attached stylized calligraphic poem, which speaks of accomplishment and being productive in one’s endeavors, was done by one of Japan’s most renowned and loved waka poets of the 19th century—Ōtagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875).

Born into a Samurai family but soon after adopted by the Ōtagaki family, from the age of seven to sixteen Rengetsu was a lady in waiting at Kameoka castle where she was trained in the arts and courtly graces. Due to her rumored great beauty, she soon married but after the death of her husband in 1823, she joined the temple Chion-in and became a nun, taking Rengetsu (Lotus Moon) as her Buddhist name.

Rengetsu is widely regarded as one of the greatest waka poets of the 19th century. A skilled Shijo School painter, she was also an accomplished calligrapher and potter. She admired and studied under a number of great poets including Ozawa Roan and Ueda Akinari, and later in life became a close friend and mentor to the artist Tomioka Tessai.

The poem reads:

Yononaka ni, mi no nari ide te, omou koto, nasu wa medetaki, tameshi nari keri
Setting out in the world, achievements, like ripe eggplants, bring such satisfaction, at coming into one’s own.

Here Rengetsu speaks of herself in the most productive time of her life—her late 70’s. Lacking the vitality and nimbleness of youth, she applied herself doubly and labored lovingly over each work, placing bold yet refined calligraphic strokes filled with intention. How she must have felt looking upon her creations, a lifetime of experience and technique, distilled into each new work.

Sumi and color on Japnanese paper with a silk border, this hanging scroll is 166cm tall and 27.5cm wide. The artwork on the scroll is 94cm tall and 24.5cm wide. It is in very good condition and comes with a certificate box notarized by a priest of Jinko-in (where Rengetsu spent the greater part of her later years). Fully insured international shipping is included in the price.

NOTE: We currently have a number of other fine works by Ōtagaki Rengetsu that are not listed in our catalog. Please contact us for details.