Morikawa Sobun, Spring Scenery, a hanging scroll painting

Meiji era, late 19th century AD

A river valley shown in a traditional Japanese style

In a valley landscape in spring, a boat can be seen moored on the far bank of the river. Its occupant has disappeared, perhaps enticed to break from his journey by the splendour of the blossoming plum trees. On the near bank a small speck of blue marks the figure of a man walking along a path above the paddy fields with an oar on his shoulder. Sobun liked to depict well-known places around Kyoto, and this possibly shows Tsukigase on the Nabari River.

Morikawa Sobun (1847-1902) continued with the orthodox Shijō style when most artists were succumbing to an eclecticism brought on by the influx into Japan of Western art methods in the late nineteenth century. Faithful to the Shijō precepts, as inherited from Maruyama ōkyo and Go Shun, he based his work always on shasei, painting direct from nature. Sobun exhibited his work internationally, and as a teacher he left behind manuals for instruction in traditional painting. An important pair of screens by him, Deer and Pine in the Snow is also in The British Museum's collection.

The signature reads 'Sobun', and the seals beneath are ‘Morikawa' and 'Ken'. The seal at top-left seems to read 'Geishu'.

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More information


I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hiz┼Ź Nihon bijutsu taikan-2, vol. 3 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1993)


Height: 1416.000 mm
Width: 695.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JP 2476 (1913.5-1.0528)


Arthur Morrison Collection
Gift of Sir W. Gwynne-Evans, Bt.


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