Red and White Poppies

School of Tawaraya Sōtatsu (Japanese, died ca. 1640)
Edo period (1615–1868)
17th century
Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper
49 3/4 x 18 1/4 in. (126.4 x 46.4 cm)
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
Not on view
Unlike many themes in the repertoire of Rinpa artists, poppies do not figure prominently in classic literature. In fact, this beloved flower, often depicted in Edo period painting, seems to have been introduced to Japan only in the 1630s as an exotic medicinal herb, the result of a growing interest in natural sciences. Here, boldly arranged in two clumps within the narrow vertical format and rendered in the heavy mineral pigments that characterize the works of Sōtatsu and his followers, this decorative rendition of the poppies nevertheless reveals a careful attention to naturalistic detail. These characteristics are notable in the work of Sōsetsu, who by 1639 had taken over Sōtatsu's atelier, as well as the use of his Inen seal, a version of which is impressed on this work.
Marking: Seal: Inen
Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer , New York (until d. 1929; bequeathed to MMA).