Ōtagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875)

Spring Geese Painting and Poem

Inv. Nr. #21.006
Date Late Edo/ early Meiji period, dated: age of 78
Material Ink on paper
Dimensions H 163,5 (78,5) x W 29,0 (19,5) cm

Comes with new mounting and fitted wooden box.

Price: EUR 12,000

In this delicate and minimalistic art work, the famous nun artist and poet Ōtagaki Rengetsu is describing an unusual scene: A flock of wild geese, usually associated with the beginning of autumn, is here flying on the distant sky within a night of early spring. Evoking the scent of blossoming plum trees with their sweet and elegant aroma, the poem implies that the returning geese are, however, not paying attention to the beauty of the season. Her inscription reads:


They do not even rest

In the scent of the plum blossoms...

On the distant night sky

Crying and winging away—

The wild geese of spring.







What is Rengetsu trying to express in her poem? Are the flying geese a reminder for us, who may find it sometimes difficult, in the hustling and bustling of our everyday life, to pause for a moment and appreciate the beauty of the small things?


Rengetsu signed this rare work with her age of 78, so the painting is datable to year 1868. The poem from the inscription has been published two years later in the poem anthology Ama no karumo (for reference see: Ama no karumo, in: Murakami Sodō: Rengetsu-ni zenshū, 1980, p. 7-8).


The hanging scroll has been professionally remounted recently and comes in perfect, flawless condition with fitted wooden storage box.