Autumn Ivy

Ogata Kenzan Japanese

Not on view

Born into Kyoto’s cultured merchant class, Kenzan was best known for his ceramic wares but was also a highly regarded calligrapher. Kenzan’s individualistic, expressive inscription of a poem referring to future winds scattering crimson leaves of ivy, recalls a famous scene from the tenth-century Tales of Ise (Ise monogatari), in which a courtier, exiled from the capital, encounters an itinerant monk on an ivy- strewn path on Mount Utsu.

Kakaru shimo
waga aki naranu
matsukaze y
chiru o urami no
tsuta no momijiba

Though not yet
winds through the pines
blow all around
and I dread they’ll scatter
the crimson leaves of ivy.
–Trans. John T. Carpenter

Autumn Ivy, Ogata Kenzan (Japanese, 1663–1743), Album leaf mounted as a hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on paper, Japan

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