Plum

A clearly silhouetted form of a plum branch is executed in ink on a leather ground (cat skin of the Japanese three-stringed instrument, shamisen), the surface of which is greatly yellowed. The branch stretches from right to left and upward of the leather square.

Mounted on panel, in a modern black frame with a light green needlepoint-decorated mat. Wrapped in a yellow muslin bakg, in a new blue cloth slip cover.

Maker(s)
Artist: Fuka'e Roshu (1699-1757)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, eighteenth century
Medium
Ink on cat skin
Dimensions
H x W (overall): 27.3 x 16.8 cm (10 3/4 x 6 5/8 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
Purchase — funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Willard G. Clark
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1980.206
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Painting

Keywords
Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

A clearly silhouetted form of a plum branch is executed in ink on a leather ground (cat skin of the Japanese three-stringed instrument, shamisen), the surface of which is greatly yellowed. The branch stretches from right to left and upward of the leather square.

Mounted on panel, in a modern black frame with a light green needlepoint-decorated mat. Wrapped in a yellow muslin bakg, in a new blue cloth slip cover.

Inscription(s)

1. (Y. Shimizu, December 1980) On the lower right is a signature in two characters written diagonally in the running style of calligraphy, which reads "Roshu." Superimposed over the second character, "shu," is a relief seal (irregular circle) which reads "Roshu." The resilient and water resisting leather did not absorb the thick ink in the middle of the branch. A portion has fallen off from the surface, leaving the area with a stippled texture.

To the upper right of the seal, and directly over the signature appear partial impressions of what can only be the incomplete impression of the same seal in different kind of ink. The color is pinkish red; its surface appears mat; while the complete seal below is orangish vermillion and appears glossy. These two different impressions of the seal can be interpreted as follows: The painter stamped the seal over the signature with water-base vermillion. The leather surface resisted the impression. For a second time the seal was impressed to the lower left partially superimposing the second character of the signature, but this time with different ink, perhaps oil-based, thus leaving the impression more successfully.

2. (Kate Theimer, 26 March 1996) Two inscribed paper labels have been transferred to the back of the new mount.

Label

The samisen, a three-stringed instrument with a long neck and squarish sound box, was generally used in theaters and urban pleasure quarters during the Edo period (1615-1868). The instrument was made from red sandalwood, mulberry, or quince, and the head, or box, portion was covered front and back with cat or dog skin. Seen here is a fragment of cat skin decorated with the silhouetted form of a plum branch.

Roshu, a Kyoto native, is thought to have studied painting with Ogata Korin (1658-1716). While Roshu's best-known paintings are boldly colored screens related to classical Japanese literature, this delicate painting is a reminder that artists undertook commissions and also had contact with the world of professional entertainers. This image bears both the signature and seal of the artist.

Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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