Offered by: Thomsen Gallery
9 East 63rd Street New York City, NY 10065 , United States Call Seller 212.288.2588


Fresh Growth at the Yōrō Waterfall, ca 1920

Price Upon Request
  • Description
    Tsuji Kakō
    Fresh Growth at the Yōrō Waterfall, ca 1920
    Hanging scroll; ink and mineral colors on silk
    Overall size 87 x 25¼ in. (221 x 64 cm)
    Image size 58 x 19½ in. (147.3 x 49.5 cm)
    Signed at lower left Kakō and sealed To Yoshikage in (Seal of To Yoshikage) and Kakō

    With a fitted paulownia-wood storage box, fitted with a panel from the original tomobako storage box inscribed outside: Picture of Fresh Growth at the Yōrō Waterfall; signed inside: Kakō dai (Titled by Kakō) with two seals.

    This distinctive contribution to a centuries-old tradition of waterfall painting offers a novel perspective on the Yōrō no Taki (“Waterfall that Refreshes the Old”)—a renowned sight in Gifu Prefecture. 105 feet (32 meters) high, the Yōrō no Taki has been famous since the eighth century for the quality of its water, so pure that it inspired the Empress Genshō to rename her reign period Yōrō (“Refreshing the Old”).
    During the early decades of the twentieth century, Japanese artists increasingly turned away from painting generalized landscape scenes with titles such as Fall Color in the Mountains (somewhat in imitation of past Chinese practice) and started to use their skills to celebrate identifiable beauty spots that were newly accessible to the Japanese urban population thanks to increasing affluence and a rapidly developing railroad network. Here Tsuji Kakō draws our attention not just to the waterfall itself but to the luxuriant growth that frames it, using rich mineral pigments in high relief to depict the leaves of a willow that plunges down the left-hand side; a solitary crow, painted in black ink, provides dramatic contrast.

    Tsuji Kakō was a bold experimentalist who was among the first modern Japanese artists to proclaim the importance of individuality in painting. Our understanding of his artistic development has been deepened by a major exhibition held at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, and other venues in 2006–2007. A pupil of the influential Kyoto painter Kōno Bairei (1844–1895), Kakō received his early training in the Maruyama-Shijō style but quickly established his own distinctive manner. Always questioning his creative intentions and abilities, he began his practice of Zen in 1899 and would remain a diligent lay student throughout his life. During the ensuing decade, he developed a wide range of additional painting modes, including both an imposing, brushstroke-rich Chinese-inspired landscape style and a revolutionary manner of rendering waves with the flavor of Rinpa but an almost watercolor-like quality. As this striking scroll admirably demonstrates, he would continue to push the boundaries of conventional Kyoto painting throughout his career.

    Tsuji Kakō’s screens of Green Waves and Waves and Plovers, formerly in the Griffith and Patricia Way Collection, are now in the Seattle Art Museum, and other works by the artist were introduced in our 2009, 2010, and 2014 publications.
  • More Information
    Documentation: Signed
    Period: 1920-1949
    Condition: Good.
    Styles / Movements: Asian Art
    Incollect Reference #: 711523
  • Dimensions
    W. 25.25 in; H. 87 in;
    W. 64.14 cm; H. 220.98 cm;
Message from Seller:

Thomsen gallery, located in a townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, offers important Japanese paintings and works of art to collectors and museums worldwide. The gallery specializes in Japanese screens and scrolls; in early Japanese tea ceramics from the medieval through the Edo periods; in masterpieces of ikebana bamboo baskets; and in gold lacquer objects.

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