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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Album of Poetry and Paintings by Kyoto Masters: A Meeting of Minds for Elegant Taste

Album of Poetry and Paintings by Kyoto Masters: A Meeting of Minds for Elegant Taste

early 1890s

Tomioka Tessai

Japanese, 1836 - 1924

Translation of the poem:

Last night sent off the demon of poverty
This morning greeting the New Year
Grinding Yulu sumi on the inkstone
Pouring Kenbishi Spring sake into my cup

Daoists ridicule alchemy
Immortals paint with colors
Awakening I regard my brushwork
The brushworks appear natural and spontaneous

Created while inebriated on New Year's day. Tessai, the reclusive historian.

Even in the midst of intense modernization, Tessai's admiration for Chinese culture and antiquarianism remained strong. At a time when many Japanese abandoned Chinese studies, Tessai continued to compose poems in the Chinese style. Tessai here used a variant of ancient Chinese clerical script. "Yulu sumi " in the third line, refers to the inksticks made by the famous ink-maker Fang Yulu in Ming dynasty China (1368-1644). "Kenbishi Spring," in the next line refers to the Kenbishi-brand sake named Spring. As implied in this poem, drinking sake aided inspiration in creating art.

Ink and light colors on a) silk and b) -j) paper
17 1/4 x 10 1/8 in. (43.8 x 25.7cm)
Gift of Griffith and Patricia Way, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum "Journeys in Landscape: Modern Art in Japan", November 26, 2004 - January 30, 2006
Published ReferencesMichiyo, Morioka; Berry, Paul. "Modern Masters of Kyoto: The Transformation of Japanese Painting Traditions," Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1999, p. 120, illus. 21.

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