Tosa Mitsusada, Quails and Wheat, a hanging scroll painting

Edo period, AD 1802-6

Quails (Japanese: uzura) as a painting subject were a speciality of the Tosa school, and many such examples by Tosa artists survive. The subject derived originally from Chinese painting of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279), but here the artist has attempted to impart a freshness to the painting by placing stalks of wheat in the background (in place of the usual millet) and by giving one of the birds white plumage.

The Tosa school had long been associated with the imperial court, and its paintings employed delicate brushwork and colouring, compared to the much bolder and dazzling works of the Kanō school, which supplied works to the military rulers. An interesting feature of the present work is the two shades, light and dark, of rokushō (verdigris) used to model the bamboo leaves in the foreground and the wheat stalks behind. Mitsusada (1738-1806) was a dedicated practitioner of the Tosa traditions, and managed to effect a temporary Tosa revival.

The signature reads 'Edokoro-azukari jūyon'-i [no] jō Tosa-no-kami Fujiwara Mitsusada' ('Lord of Tosa Fujiwara Mitsusada, Head of the Painting Bureau, Upper Fourth Rank). It is known that he achieved this rank in 1802, so the work can be dated between then and his death only four years later. The seal beneath reads 'Mitsusada no in' ('Seal of Mitsusada').

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Tosa Mitsusada, Quails and Wheat, a hanging scroll painting

  • Detail: signature and seals

    Detail: signature and seals


More information


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


Height: 970.000 mm
Width: 344.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA JP 264 (1913.5-1.070)


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


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