Height: 1297.000 mm
Width: 567.000 mm
Gift of Sir W. Gwynne-Evans, Bt.
Asia JP 2566 (1913.5-1.0490)
Suzuki Hyakunen, Planting Rice Seedlings in the Rain, a hanging scroll painting
Edo period, AD 1866
A seasonal painting
The trees and mountains behind the three rice-planters are only dimly visible through the haze of rain. Hyakunen (1825-91) has conveyed this effect by a swift, vertical blurring of the ink. In the foreground, however, the ink is applied heavily to make the rocks and waterfall seem more three-dimensional. This technique links the painting to works of the Maruyama-Shijō school, as does its seasonal theme: planting rice in the rain in the fifth month (mid-summer).
Towards the end of the Edo period (1600-1868), when this work was painted, people still required hanging scrolls of suitable size and subject matter to place on display in the alcove (tokonoma) of traditional reception rooms. Paintings such as this, depicting activities in the seasonal cycle of man's interaction with nature, were popular at the time, and would have been essential items in the household.
The signature on this scroll translates as 'Painted on a summer day, 1866 Hyakunen', and the seals beneath together read 'Seiju', Hyakunen's given name.
I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan-2, vol. 3 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1993)