Seeking Plum Blossoms at Tsukigase, Vol. 2


Seeking Plum Blossoms at Tsukigase, Vol. 2

Paintings / Edo

By Kanai Ujū (1796–1857)

Edo period, 1833 (Tenpō 4)

Ink and light color on paper



Inscriptions:壬辰春・・・ ; 癸巳春二月・・・

This natural scene is painted with a deft touch resembling a series of finely-drawn dots. White-blossomed trees are peppered throughout a landscape of black ink tinged with light blue and reddish hues. You almost expect a mountain hermit to emerge from one of the steep hills or valleys. Where do you think this painting is set? The scenery may seem more Chinese than Japanese, but this is actually Tsukigase valley in Nara prefecture, an area famed for its plum blossoms. Japanese painters were strongly influenced by Chinese culture, so even when they painted scenery from the local area, they seem to have added some Chinese flavor to their works. The light, pale colors also render the landscape less real and more otherworldly, like a utopia.
This illustrated scroll comes in two volumes. The first volume depicts the southern bank of Nabarigawa River, while this volume seems to show the river's northern bank. Over these two scrolls, the artist, Kanai Uju, has recorded impressions gained from a leisurely day spent travelling along the river observing both banks. The painting evokes the mood of a balmy spring day filled with the scent of plum blossoms.

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