Rengetsu Style Flower Vase

Attributed to Issō, 19. Century

Inv. Nr. #20.006
Date Early Meiji period, late 19. Century
Material Glazed stoneware with iron brown inscription
Dimensions H 24 cm x Diam. 14 cm

Comes with new, fitted wooden box.

Ōtagaki Rengetsu is possibly the most famous female poet of 19th Century and also known for her excellent skills in calligraphy and pottery. It was after the death of her stepfather in 1832, when Rengetsu began to make her extraordinary pottery, which she usually inscribed with her own waka (31-syllable classical poetry) and sold to support herself. With her unique combination of pottery, calligraphy and poetry, Rengetsu gained already large recognition during her lifetime far beyond the borders of Kyōto.

 

The high demand in Rengetsu works led to the production of collaboration works with friendly potters like Issō (dates unknown). After working together with Rengetsu, Issō became an expert for her pottery as well her calligraphic style and eventually started to make works in her style himself. Authorized by Rengetsu, these 19. century works bear much of Rengetsu's original inspiration and are a good source of understanding the great admiration, that Rengetsu experienced in her last decades.

 

This cream white glazed, irregular shaped flower vase with two handles was inscribed in iron brown with one of Rengetsu's poems. Considering the calligraphic characteristics and the Rengetsu signature, this vase was made and inscribed most possibly by Issō. The poem reads:

 

In the morning breeze

a riverbank willow

scatters its leaves

into the flowing waters

so autumn begins.

 

あさ風に

河そひ柳

ちりそめて

水のしらべそ

秋に成りゆく

 

References:

Black Robe, White Mist: Art of the Japanese Buddhist Nun Rengetsu, National Gallery of Australia, 2007.

 

Collections:

Tokyo National Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Harvard Art Museum, National Gallery of Australia, Miho Museum, LACMA Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and many more...