Egrets and Cotton Roses

Tosa Mitsuoki Japanese

Not on view

Artists of the Tosa school are known for refined and colorful yamato-e paintings depicting quintessentially Japanese themes such as scenes from The Tale of Genji and other literary classics. Tosa Mitsuoki is, however, also renowned for his works showing quails with flowers or grasses, reflecting an indebtedness to Chinese painting of the Southern Song dynasty. A bird-and-flower painting by Mitsuoki that does not depict quails, such as this rendering of two egrets with cotton roses, is therefore quite rare.

This hanging scroll shows the artist painting in a different, somewhat looser style, observable in the flowers, leaves, rocks, and egrets. The birds are painted in the “boneless” method, with minimal outlines, showing the influence of contemporaneous Rinpa artists. The painting demonstrates Mitsuoki’s subtle but definite interest in incorporating stylistic features of the Kano school, especially in the way he executed the rocks with bolder brushstrokes in ink.

Egrets and Cotton Roses, Tosa Mitsuoki (Japanese, 1617–1691), Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk, Japan

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