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 minimalist work of art, the famous nun artist and poet Ōtagaki Rengetsu describes an unusual scene: A flock of wild geese, usually associated with the beginning of autumn, flies in the distant sky on a night of early spring. The poem evokes the scent of blossoming plum trees with their sweet and elegant aroma, and implies that the returning geese are not paying attention to the beauty of the season. Their 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 say in her poem? Are the flying geese a reminder to those of us who sometimes find it difficult to stop and appreciate the beauty of small things in the hustle and bustle of everyday life?

Rengetsu signed this rare work with her age of 78, dating the painting to 1868. The poem from the inscription was published two years later in the poetry anthology Ama no karumo (for reference, see Ama no karumo, in: Murakami Sodō: Rengetsu-ni zenshū, 1980, pp. 7-8).

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