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Hon'ami Koetsu, Tawaraya Sotatsu

Asian Art

Koetsu, a calligrapher, and Sotatsu, a painter, often collaborated to produce works in which calligraphy and painting complemented each other. This piece contains a poem that reads:

Tea helps dispel worries and cares,

Leading us to easiness, free from the pursuit of worldly success,

Tea, like a day lily, helps us forget,

Leaving us totally relaxed.

The free-flowing brushwork matches the loose spirit of them poem. In both style and subject matter, this calligraphy pays homage to "tea taste," an aesthetic in which natural, accidental beauty is careful studied, appreciated, and replicated.

MEDIUM Hanging scroll, ink and gold on paper
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 17th century
    PERIOD Momoyama Period
    DIMENSIONS 34 3/4 x 11 1/8 in. (88.3 x 28.3 cm) poem card only: 7 7/16 x 6 5/8 in. (18.9 x 16.8 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Unsigned. No seals.
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mrs. Carl L. Selden
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Album leaf with calligraphy of a poem about tea by Koetsu in square poem card format (shikishi). The paper is decorated with a pine tree grove painted by Sotatsu in tarashikomi technique. Koetsu was known to have copied poems from earlier anthologies, imitating courtly manner of 12th century. Unsigned, no seals. Mount: Strips of Indian dyed cloth (17th cen.) surrounding card. Condition: Excellent. No prior repairs visible.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Hon'ami Koetsu (Japanese, 1558–1637). Calligraphy, 17th century. Hanging scroll, ink and gold on paper, 34 3/4 x 11 1/8 in. (88.3 x 28.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Carl L. Selden, 1991.1.1 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1991.1.1_IMLS_SL2.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 1991.1.1_IMLS_SL2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    Hon'ami Koetsu (Japanese, 1558–1637). <em>Calligraphy</em>, 17th century. Hanging scroll, ink and gold on paper, 34 3/4 x 11 1/8 in. (88.3 x 28.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Carl L. Selden, 1991.1.1 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1991.1.1_IMLS_SL2.jpg)