Poem by Onakatomi Yoshinobu with Underpainting of Hollyhocks

Calligraphy by Shōkadō Shōjō Japanese
Underpainting attributed to Tawaraya Sōtatsu Japanese

Not on view

The honorific “Three Brushes of the Kan’ei Era” was given to Shōkadō Shōjō, Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558–1637), and Konoe Nobutada (1565–1614), all of whom were active in the Kyoto area. Both Shōjō, a Shingon monk, and Kōetsu, who worked as a ceramist and lacquer designer, turned to the painter Tawaraya Sōtatsu and his studio to create underpaintings for their calligraphic work. Here, Shōjō transcribed an ancient poem exalting the emperor by Ōnakatomi no Yoshinobu (921–991). The choice of poem and Shōjō’s fluid kana calligraphy reflect the renewed interest in classical literature that blossomed around the early 1600s.

Chitose made
kagireru matsu mo
kyō yori wa
kimi hikarete
yorozuyo ya hemu

Though pine trees may
live a thousand years,
the pine shoot plucked
by His Majesty, however,
will flourish forever.
–Trans. John T. Carpenter

Poem by Onakatomi Yoshinobu with Underpainting of Hollyhocks, Calligraphy by Shōkadō Shōjō (Japanese, 1584?–1639), Poem card (shikishi) mounted as a hanging scroll; ink, gold, and silver on colored paper, Japan

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