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Scholars in a boat viewing the moon by Okutani Shuseki enclosed in the original signed Meiji period wooden box. This is likely an allusion to the famous red-cliffs tale of Chinese lore. It is performed with ink on silk in a border of blue satin patterned with clouds with white piping and terminating in fine rosewood rollers in the style known as Mincho typical of the Meiji. The scroll is 57 x 200 cm (22-1/2 x 79 inches) and is in fine condition.
The Red cliffs scene is taken from the story of Su Dong Po and his boating party at the Red Cliffs on the Yangzi River. The full moon rising over the mist sets the mood for the scholars to reflect on the historical defeat of Cao-Cao at that spot, and the impermanence of man and his empires.
Okutani Shūseki (1871-1936) was born in Osaka but moved to Kyoto where he settled and studied under Mori Kansai with Yamamoto Shunkyo and others. Early on he was selected to exhibit at the Nihon Seinen Ega Kyokai and Nihon Ega Kyokai exhibitions, where he received a number of prizes. In 1912 he received the Nichigetsu Prize at the Nichigetsu Exhibition, and he later exhibited with the Shotoku-taishi Ten among others.