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Landscape with Chinese Figures

Nagasawa Rosetsu (Japanese, 1754–1799)

Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
1795–99
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink on gilded paper
Dimensions:
Image (each screen): 67 3/8 in. x 12 ft. 2 3/4 in. (171.1 x 372.7 cm)
Classification:
Screens
Credit Line:
The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975
Accession Number:
1975.268.75, .76
  • Description

    Rosetsu, a student of the Kyoto realist painter Maruyama Ōkyo (1733–1795), developed such an idiosyncratic style that he became known as one of the "Three Eccentrics" (the other two being Itō Jakuchū and Soga Shōhaku). He is best known for his bravura handling of line and wash, as seen in these screens. The exuberant yet incisive brushwork and deep ink tones used to define the rocky forms are characteristic of his later work; the bold calligraphic style of his signature also belongs to his late career. The large seal reading "gyo" is missing its rim at the upper right, damage known to have occurred about 1795. The screens are therefore dated between 1795 and 1799, the year Rosetsu died.

    The subjects of the sharply contrasting scenes are uncertain. The forbidding, grotto-pierced precipice at left may represent a site on the Yangzi River where the Chinese poet Su Shi (Dongpo, 1037–1101) composed his famous "Ode on a Journey to the Red Cliff." The gentler scene at the right, centering on a group of scholars gathered in a hut in a willow grove, may depict the Chinese poet-recluse Tao Yuanming (365–472) in his country retreat.

  • See also
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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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