Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Cherry Blossoms at Yoshino

Painted and inscribed by Rai San'yō (1780–1832)
Rai Kyohei (Shunsō) (Japanese, 1756–1834)
Rai Baishi (Japanese, 1759–1843)
Edo period (1615–1868)
19th century
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
18 1/2 x 11 5/16 in. (47 x 28.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Bequest of John L Cadwaldader, Gift of Mrs. Russell Sage, and Charles Stewart Smith Collection, Gift of Mrs. Charles Stewart Smith, Charles Stewart Smith Jr., and Howard Caswell Smith, in memory of Charles Stewart Smith, by exchange, 1984
Accession Number:
Not on view
One of Japan’s most famous landscapes, the mountains of Yoshino covered with pink and white clouds of flowering cherry trees, is given a novel treatment by the distinguished historian and calligrapher Rai Sanyō, who adapted the venerated Chinese ink landscape mode associated with the Yuan literati painter Huang Gongwang (1269–1354). The inscriptions above this workman-like rendition of a mountain landscape illuminate the personal and cultivated nature of this painting, which commemorates a visit he made to Yoshino in the spring of 1827 with his uncle Kyōhei and his mother, Baishi, both eminent Confucian scholars. Sanyō's inscription at the right expresses his joy in fulfilling his dream of viewing the blossoms but clouds as he muses on the failed attempt by the emperor Go-Daigo (1319–1338) to restore imperial rule, evoking his Yoshino court in exile, and a neglected grave deep in the mountains. At left, Baishi's inscription in feminine Japanese Kana script reflects her joy in seeing the blossoms once more in old age.
Signature: Inscriptions by Rai Sanyo, Rai Kyohei, and Sanyo's mother, Baishi:

Poem: Last time I came here to seek spring , the flowers had already faded.
This time the warm snow of the cherry blossoms reflects on people's faces.
Only after ten years can I fulfil my life's dream: to come with my mother to Yoshino.
Playfully written by Rai Jō; (seal: Rai Jō)

In the deep crevices of Yoshino Mountain
there is a neglected grave
Sasid to be the one of the great gentleman
of the Southern Dynasty.
The Imperial carriage does not return,
giving rise to the endless sorrow.
And the (joy of the) mountain flowers
is buried in a myriad clouds.
Signed and sealed Kyohei.

Only now am I really happy, having grown
To have once more seen the flowers of Yoshino.
Signed Baishi (seal in the lower right)

Inscription on Oda Kaisen: Sanbongi
(Painting of) Evening Colors at San(bon)gi 1829 20th of January.
Farewell [for] the fellow-poet Chuei on his way home eastward.
Kaisen Ōrui
Seals: Ōrui (top, intaglio, square)
Kyokai (below, intagio, square)
Seal in the lower left not yet red.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings of the Nanga School," January 27, 1990–May 13, 1990.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Tea Ceremony Wares of Mino: Shino and Oribe," 1992.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Enlightening Pursuits," February 28, 2001–August 5, 2001.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Sense of Place: Landscape in Japanese Art," May 8, 2002–September 8, 2002.

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