This fragment from a much longer scroll depicts a full lotus leaf and a stem bent by the wind, signaling a seasonal change and the onset of autumn. The structure of the complete scroll, known to us solely from an early twentieth-century collotype reproduction, featured the life cycle of the lotus plant—budding, blooming, and decaying—painted in silver and gold by Sōtatsu. Kōetsu’s calligraphy, exquisitely balanced with the painting’s rhythms, renders select poems from the thirteenth-century anthology Hyakunin isshu (One Hundred Poets, One Hundred Poems). He used the Taikyoan Kōetsu signature after 1615, when he moved to Takagamine, in the northwest foothills above Kyoto. This work is the last-known collaboration between the artists.
The scroll, thought to pay homage to the women of the Hon’ami family, was produced around 1618. Kōetsu was a devout follower of the Nichiren Buddhist sect, which focuses on the Lotus Sutra.
Two Poems from the Ogura hyakunin isshu
Tawaraya Sōtatsu (act. ca. 1600–40)
Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558–1637), calligrapher
Japan, ca. 1615
Fragment of a handscroll, mounted as a hanging scroll
Ink, silver, and gold on paper
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mary Griggs Burke Collection,
Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015, 2015.300.86