• Artist: Shiokawa, Bunrin (1808 – 1877)
  • Title: Sunrise  c.1840
  • Media: sumi ink and color on paper
  • Dimension: 49 ½’ X 25 ½” (mounted)

Shiokawa Bunrin was born in Kyoto and was the son of a samurai. Little is known of his early career until the 1850s when he appears as an established artist working in the Imperial Palace. Bunrin was a major artist whose style had a great influence on the Kyoto style of painting in the early Meiji era (1868 – 1912).

  • Artist: Nagasawa, Rosetsu (1744-1799)
  • Title: Tiger, c. 1789
  • Media: sumi ink and color on paper
  • Dimension: 82 ½” X 23”  ( mounted )

The signature and seal of Tiger indicate that the scroll dates to the peak of Rosetsu’s career, when he worked on the screen paintings of the Imperial Palace (1789 – 1801). The depiction of the tiger reflects the distinctive humor of the artist. Rosetsu used his favorite Gyo (fish) seal on this painting. The missing top right corner of the seal is due to damage incurred during the Great Fire of the Tenmei era in 1788.

  • Artist: [Monk] Chuo-so-u (1760 – 1838)
  • Title: Jigoku, circa late 18th century
  • Media: sumi ink on paper
  • Dimension: 50 ½” X 19 ¾” (mounted)

In this work, the two characters, which possess a rhythmic beauty, mean “Hell.”

  • Artist: Matsumura, Keibun (1779 – 1843)
  • Title: Go Sekku  –  five seasonal festivals  (set of 5 scrolls) , c.1820
  • Media: sumi ink and color on paper
  • Dimension: 47” X 28” (mounted)

Go-Sekku (Five Still Lifes) is a set of five scrolls, each of which shows the artist’s remarkable use of ink to depict the seasonal changes of the natural world.

  • Artist: (Monk) Kokai, Toryu  (1613 – 1694)
  • Title: Black Plum , c.1650
  • Media: sumi ink on paper
  • Dimension: 55” X 11”

Toryu was a Soto Zen scholar monk, abbot of the Joan-ji tenple and later the Gotoku-ji. The poem inscribed on the scroll reads:

a dream on new year’s day
a black plum tree appears
and gradually changing its shape
to a dragon
the dragon makes rain to fall
unto draughted land below

  • Artist: Unknown Artist
  • Title: Tosho-tsuba (Hilt) circa late 16th – early 17th century
  • Media: Iron
  • Dimension: 4” (dia)

This is a very rare example of an early hilt. In Japan, sword smiths were highly regarded, not only among the numerous craftsmen responsible for the various parts of the sword, but also among the entire Japanese culture of craftsmen. Their ability to present two contrary elements on a single sword – one sharp enough to cut someone’s head off with one stroke, and one with such quiet beauty from a mass of black, raw iron – was regarded as sacred.

  • Artist: Unknown Artist
  • Title: Roof Tile, circa late 12th – early 13th century
  • Media: pottery  Shirashi Ware
  • Dimension: 8 ½” X 12”

Shirashi Ware was first produced in Japan in the late 8th century and continued to be made until the early 13th century. Shirashi-Yaki (Ware) included both glazed and unglazed ware. While many of the kilns associated with Shirashi ware had previously fired high-quality pottery, the competition from Chinese potteries became such that in order to stay in business, the Shirashi kilns were forced to make coarser pottery, including roof tiles, in greater quantities for sale to farmers and other middle-class consumers. Shirashi kilns died out during the 12th- and 13th- centuries either because they were unable to adapt to the needs of the market or because of the competition from China and nearby areas.

  • Artist: Unknown Artist
  • Title: Negoro Nuri Tray, circa late 16th century
  • Media: Wood and lacquer
  • Dimension: 13 ¼” X 13 ¼” X ½”

For centuries, much of the lacquer ware used in temples and shrines has been coated with red lacquer. It is thought that during the Kamakura Period (1192 – 1333), the priests who had moved from the temples on Mt. Koya in Kyoto to the Negoro-ji Temple in the Kii Province began taking the black lacquer ware used in ceremonies and coating it with red lacquer to distinguish it from everyday utensils. After years of use, the red lacquer would begin to wear away, exposing, in various degrees, the black lacquer coating underneath. And, as the red lacquer coating degraded, fine cracks would appear, giving the surface a unique and beautiful weathered appearance.