Nagasawa Rosetsu was from a samarui family. He studied with Maruyama Okyo (1733-1795) and eventually came to be considered one of that master’s best pupils although it is also said that he was expelled from Okyo’s studio no fewer than three times. During his short lifetime Rosetsu was considered an important painter. He assisted Okyo and other painters in refurbishing the imperial palace, some rooms of which had been damaged in the fire of 1788. Rosetsu was assigned the paintings in the Goryosho, the most important room, while some elder colleagues such as Komai Genki (1747-1797) and Hara Zaichu (1750-1837) were given less prestigious tasks, showing the high regard in which Rostsu was held by Okyo.
“Two Crows on Persimmon Branch” is not dated by inscription but the birds manifest a rather quirky humor as well as a complete mastery of technique, suggesting a date of execution in the late 1780s or early 1790s.