Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Insects and Grasses

Artist:
Yamamoto Baiitsu (Japanese, 1783–1856)
Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
dated 1847
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Handscroll; ink and color on silk
Dimensions:
Image: 8 1/4 x 95 in. (21 x 241.3 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 1995
Accession Number:
1995.247
Not on view
This consummate summer subject, painted by Nagoya literatus Yamamoto Baiitsu in his mature period, shows his mastery of the "boneless" brushwork technique and his deft powers of observation. Each of the more than fifty insects on this scroll, many lifted lightheartedly from the pages of the Chinese Mustard Seed Garden Manual, are given life and movement through the most economical of painted means. The composition, too, is particularly effective, launching the flying and crawling insects across the horizontal space in an extended arabesque.

At the end of the scroll, on the left, the artist's signature and date are given.
Signature: Artist's signature and dated "the day after the fifteenth day of the eighth month of 1847"; three artist's seals.

Inscription: Colophon: in running script by Nakanishi Koseki (1812–1883), a Chikuzen (present-day Fukuoka Prefecture) literatus: "Although I prefer not to make comments on Baiitsu's works, this is the first handscroll of his I have seen like this one of grasses and insects. It must have brought solace and calm to viewers in recent years. It may well be the best of the masterpieces by this old man. My graceful friend of the hundred peaks should treasure it. The year is 1862 in the first ten days of the fourth month, the ascetic Koseki inscribed this at the River Crashing Around Rocks and Mountains Studio"; three seals, all Koseki's: "The river crashing around rocks and mountains [studio name of Nakanishi Koseki], "true seal of [Naka]nishi Ju" and "Koseki Dojin".

Frontispiece: four-character, in Chinese, Tai sheng lien ying (Shadows entwined with their voices) written by Haikai poet Koson, original owner of the scroll; dated "1862, the first month of summer"; signed "An old line taken from a Tang poet, inscribed by the Ascetic of the Hundred Peaks"; three seals, presumable Koson's: "The Woodcutter of the One Hundred Peaks", "The seal of Bokugei" and "Pen name Yuchiku".

Marking: On colophon: three seals, all Koseki's: "The river crashing around rocks and mountains [studio name of Nakanishi Koseki], "true seal of [Naka]nishi Ju" and "Koseki Dojin".

On frontispiece: three seals, presumable Koson's: "The Woodcutter of the One Hundred Peaks", "The seal of Bokugei" and "Pen name Yuchiku".
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seasonal Pleasures in Japanese Art (Part One)," October 12, 1995–April 28, 1996.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Graceful Gestures: A Decade of Collecting Japanese Art," September 29, 2001–March 10, 2002.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Sensitivity to the Seasons: Spring and Summer," December 17, 2005–June 4, 2006.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Graceful Gestures: Two Decades of Collecting Japanese Art," 2007.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Drama of Eyes and Hands: Sharaku's Portraits of Kabuki Actors," September 20, 2007–March 24, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Animals, Birds, Insects, and Marine Life in Japanese Art," June 26, 2008–November 30, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscapes in Japanese Art," June 24, 2010–November 7, 2010.

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