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Yamamoto Sodō (first half 19th century)

“Morning Glories” 朝顔图

Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk
101.4 x 35.9 cm. (40 x 14 1/8 in.)

Inscription: “Koko Sodō.”

Artist’s seal:

Yanagi Takahashi, Kyoto

Three lovely blossoms are set off by grasses, tiny pink and yellow blossoms, and a cricket. The forms are organized in a compact composition that rises along the ascending diagonal axis of the picture, a dynamic arrangement that creates pleasing visual tension. The electric blue of the morning glories, a flower that delights the eye during the summer months in Japan, is balanced by the muted greens of the leaves with pink and yellow adding subtle highlights to the composition. The exquisitely executed patterning of the leaves provides an effective foil to the blossoms, which turn gracefully in space. The technique and results are exemplary and identify the artist as a very accomplished member of the Rimpa school of Japanese painting.

Yamamoto Sodō is listed in the Koga Biko (1904) as living in Shitaya Kanasugi, Edo. Although his dates of birth and death are not recorded, he was a disciple of Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1828), founder of the Edo Rimpa school and father of Sakai Dōitsu (1845-1913), and would thus seem to have been active during the first half of the 19th century. A painting of “Mount Fujii and Autumn Flowers” in the Brooklyn Museum of Art was painted jointly by Suzuki Kiitsu (1796-1858), another pupil of Hōitsu, along with Sodō, with the latter artist painting the flowers in a manner quite close to those of the present painting, as is his signature in the lower right.1

1. See Suzuki Kiitsu and Yamamoto Sodō, “Mount Fuii and Autumn Flowers,” in Yasushi Murashige et. al., Rimpa Painting, Kyoto, 1992, vol. 3, pl. 43.

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