Ōtagaki Rengetsu 大田垣蓮月 (1791-1875)

Full Moon over Pines at Akashi Bay

Inv. Nr. #20.009
Date Early Meiji period, 1869
Material Ink on paper
Dimensions H 148,0 (23,0) x W 26,1 (14,0) cm

Comes with fitted wooden box, with certification by Issui (1863-1945).

Price: EUR 7,500


The beauty of simplicity seems to crystallize in this unique work of art by nun Ōtagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875)  the most famous poet and artist of the 19th century in Japan. Praising the beautiful moment at the famous Akashi Bay on a pure and calm full moon night in autumn, Rengetsu painted this scene with a few carefully placed brush strokes on paper. She wrote her own poem against an almost blank background (suggesting the open surface of the water) next to two pine trees under the full moon.


The moon is painted in a single, rounded stroke like a Zen Buddhist ensō  the very symbol of enlightenment and emptiness that neither words nor thought can express. Inexpressible, it seems, is also the immense beauty of the night of the full moon that Rengetsu tries to describe in her poem:








Walking along Akashi Bay

This moonlit evening

Searching for

Fitting words

To tell of this beauty.


Rengetsu signed this rare work with her age of 78, dating the painting to 1869. The work was additionally authenticated by Issui (1863-1945), the former head priest of Jinkō-in Temple in Kyōto, where Rengetsu spent the last decade of her life. The authentication by Rengetsu specialist Issui is dated to Shōwa 18 (1943).




Murakami Sodō: Rengetsu-ni zenshū, 1980, p. 26.



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