Red Maple Leaves by Ogata Kenzan

  • Edo period
  • 18c
  • Hanging scroll, ink and color on paper
  • H-109.3 W-40.3
Red Maple Leaves

Red Maple Leaves
Again the subject is maple leaves, but here the leaves, in their autumn colors, are depicted with a large branch of the tree in a vertical picture plane. The leaves, damp in the autumn rain, glow more redly and, reflecting the setting sun, grow yet more red: perhaps a poem to that effect that inspired this painting. Tarashikomi, a characteristically Rimpa technique, was used on the branch, layering the pigment on surface areas still wet with paler pigment, to create an effect of pooled colors with softly blurred edges. The poetic inscription in the upper part of the picture plane is a Chinese poem; here Kenzan's literati character comes to the fore. The forceful calligraphy and the tight brushwork are powerful and reveal how very much Kenzan was a man of letters. The signature tells us that this painting dates from late in Kenzan's life, when he was seventy-seven.