Red Sea Bream (Tai) on Bamboo Leaves

Artist: Ogawa Ritsuo (1663-1747)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 18th century
Color on silk
H x W (image): 30 x 50.7 cm (11 13/16 x 19 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

bamboo, Edo period (1615 - 1868), fish, Japan, kakemono

To 1897
Bunkio Matsuki (1867-1940), Boston, to 1897 [1]

From 1897 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Bunkio Matsuki in 1897 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, pg. 22, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Bunkio Matsuki (C.L. Freer source) 1867-1940


The Japanese word tai (sea bream) is also an element of the word medetai, which means auspicious or fortunate. Tai is prized for its flavor and as a food signifying good fortune for the New Year, weddings, and other celebrations. Here, the painter Ogawa Ritsuo, who was skilled in the decoration of lacquer, presented the tai on a bed of bamboo, a plant that symbolizes longevity. The tai exhibits meticulous details and unusual coloration in its scales. Ritsuo’s inclusion of gold behind the silk creates unusual iridescent effects that utilize the technical knowledge and precision he developed from his experience in maki-e, the practice of applying metal powders and gold leaf to lacquerware for decoration. According to the inscription to the right, Ritsuo painted this intriguing still life in his seventy-sixth year.

Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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