Ōtagaki Rengetsu (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 6,000


The beauty of simplicity seems to crystallize in this unique artwork by nun Ōtagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875) - the most famous female poet and artist of 19th Century in Japan. Praising the beautiful moment at the well-known Akashi Bay at a pure and calm full moon night in autumn, Rengetsu painted this scene in a few, carefully set brush strokes on paper. She wrote her own poem against an almost blank background (suggesting the open water surface) next to two pines under the full moon. The moon is painted in a single, rounded brushstroke like a Zen Buddhist ensō - the very symbol of enlightenment and emptiness, which neither words nor thoughts can express. Inexpressable, it seems, is also the tremendous beauty of the full moon night, Rengetsu is trying 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, so the painting is datable to year 1869. The work was additionally certified within the fitting wooden box by Issui (1863-1945), the former head priest of the Jinkō-in temple in Kyōto, where Rengetsu spend the last decade of her life. The authentication by Rengetsu specialist Issui is dated to year Shōwa 18 (1943). 




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



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