Ōtagaki Rengetsu 大田垣蓮月 (1791-1875)

Painting with Teapot and Uji River Poem

Inv. Nr. #20.002
Date late Edo period, 1850s–60s
Material Ink and light colors on paper
Dimensions H 140 x W 76 cm

Price: EUR 7,800


This beautiful fan-shaped painting depicts a sencha teapot of the type Rengetsu usually made herself. The pot is fluidly painted in a few thin lines with a very light, soft pink color and accentuated with two broader, light gray brushstrokes on the shoulder and lid of the pot to give the vessel a more three-dimensional look. On the left side of the painting, Rengetsu added one of her poems, which perfectly accompanies the painted pot:








Scooped up,
It is loved by all,
The water of the Uji River,
Infused with the scent of
Mountain roses.


In her poem, Rengetsu plays with several synesthetic impressions. First, she gives the viewer the idea that the tea brewed in the pot is made with water brought from the Uji River in Kyōto, a famous scenic spot also known from the Tale of Genji. She then combines this impression with the scent of mountain roses (Jap. yamabuki), which grow in the mountains near the river and are enjoyed by young and old in the spring, when their blossoms turn nature bright yellow. Finally, she combines the written word with the image by using the first syllable of the poem, "く" (ku), with its wavy form in its pictorial qualities, just like a stream of steam rising from the spout of a teapot, spreading its fragrant scent - whether that of tea or that of blooming mountain roses.


The painting was originally painted on a folding fan and later mounted as a hanging scroll by an admiring Japanese collector. The box is inscribed and certified by one of the leading artists of the Meiji period, Mochizuki Gyokusen (1834-1913).