The Persimmon Tree

Artist: Sakai Hōitsu (Japanese, 1761–1828)

Period: Edo period (1615–1868)

Date: 1816

Culture: Japan

Medium: Two-panel folding screen; ink and color on paper

Dimensions: Image: 56 9/16 x 56 5/8 in. (143.7 x 143.8 cm)
Overall: 65 1/4 x 64 in. (165.7 x 162.6 cm)

Classification: Screens

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1957

Accession Number: 57.156.3


This painting, while exhibiting the trademark mottled-ink (tarashikomi) technique of the Rinpa school, reflects the artist’s interest in Western-style realism, which is combined with sophisticated, graceful forms. The intricately curling leaves of the tree and grass evoke the cold sky of the clear fall day alluded to in the inscription, which dates the screen to late autumn 1816.

Hōitsu was born into a wealthy, influential samurai family and had all the advantages of the finest education, including the opportunity to study many of the painting styles available to artists in Edo Japan. He became a monk in 1797 and adopted the priestly name Monsen Kishin, which appears in the seal and signature on this screen.