- Museum number
Painting, hanging scroll, collaborative work (gassaku). Pine tree. Ink on paper. Signed and sealed.
- Production date
- 1866 (late summer)
Height: 150.60 centimetres
Width: 81.40 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Katei was one of the last generation of painters to practise as an itinerant literati artist, trained in the styles of Ming- and Qing-dynasty painting, who had sought out Chinese contact in Nagasaki in his youth. In this large painting of a pine tree, he apparently invokes the renowned 'Yangzhou eccentric', Jin Nong (Dongxin, 1687-1783). The work bears an inscription by the Nagasaki-based literati painter Kinoshita Itsuun (1799-1866), commenting that, '[The depiction] is fresh and charming, [with bark] rendered like tadpoles and verdure reaching to the sky. The rain-soaked trunk is like skin [dried out by] frost. [The tree] is old, but it is still sound'. Katei never formally studied with Itsuun, but the older man, an enthusiastic practitioner of many literati arts, acted as a mentor for the young artist. Although undated, the size and confidence of the painting (and relationship to the inscription) suggest it was brushed when Katei was older.
Katei never again travelled to Nagasaki, but Itsuun (accompanied by three pupils) did visit Edo in late summer, 1866 (seventh month, Keio 2), the very year Katei returned to the city. It is possible that this work was made to mark the two friends' reunion after fifteen years, with the tree symbolizing the continuing vitality of the older painter. Tragically, the steamship which Itsuun boarded a month later for his return journey to Nagasaki was struck by a typhoon after six days' sailing, and sank with no survivors.
During the 1870s and early 1880s, Katei participated in the active world of the literati arts in Tokyo, producing paintings, attending salons, and providing illustrations for publications. However, as the social and professional situations around him began to change, from the mid-1880s onward Katei transformed himself into a modern painter engaged in the system of domestic and international exhibitions and art organizations, and employed by the imperial court. The pinnacle of his career came with appointment as an Imperial Household Artist.
As well as three paintings by Itsuun, the Museum also has a number of works by Katei, including the four-volume 'Painting Manual from the Hall of Cultivating Fragrance', several unmounted album leaves, and a full-size preparatory drawing for his prize-winning submission to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. There are two hanging scrolls, but these are both examples of Katei's coloured style. The present work is a fine example of his looser, literati-style ink paintings, and illustrates the relationship with his mentor.
(R. Buckland, Mar 2010)
This work is reproduced and discussed in Rosina Buckland, 'Painting Nature for the Nation: Taki Katei and the Challenges to Sinophile Culture in Meiji Japan' (Leiden: Brill, 2013), pp. 62-63.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.Add.1288 (Japanese Painting Additional Number)