Crab and Frogs, by Maruyama Okyo and Yosa Buson

  • Edo period
  • 18c
  • Hanging scroll, ink on silk
  • H-39.2 W-34.1
Catalogue Entry

This joint work includes one crab by Maruyama Okyo and frogs by Yosa Buson. Okyo (1733‐1795) is known as the founder of Japan's realist style of painting. He was influenced by foreign realist painting styles and developed his own distinctive school of painting known for its bright, decorative quality. Yosa Buson (1716‐1783) was a famous haiku poet, ranked with the master of them all, Basho, and was also known as one of the two greatest literati painters of his day, alongside Ike no Taiga. Here Buson shows us only the backs of the three frogs depicted, but in their expressive forms we can see how Buson believed that there is a close connection between the rendition of life forms and the compositional wit of a haiku verse. Okyo's crab is drawn with superb, abbreviated effect to convey a realistic, crab‐like image. While it is not clear what brought these two painters together to create this joint work, in the mutually vitalized painting we can see how there really were no boundaries between the realist and the literati forms of painting. This work speaks of the interchange between artists of all styles.