Bright red camellia blossoms and green leaves articulate the stark winter environment in which a black crow is posed. In a reveal of usual practice, the entire background was washed with dilute ink, leaving white areas of the paper ground to serve as snow. The result is a strong and forceful design with the natural forms subjected to the abstract vision of the artist.
Kakutei was born in Nagasaki and early in life became a disciple of Gakuso Gensho, the third abbot of Manju-san in the Shofuku-ji temple. In 1741, at the age of nineteen, he became a monk with the name of Johaku, later changed to Joko; Kakutei was his by-name. Kakutei first studied painting under Kumashiro Yuhi (1693-1772), who in turn had studied directly with the founder of the Nagasaki school of painting, Shen Ch’uan (1682-ca.1760), a Chinese master who resided in Nagasaki between 1731 and 1733.