A small cottage perched on the edge of a tranquil lake, fishermen heading out in the morning chill to secure their daily catch. This tranquil scene from the Japanese countryside was captured over 300 years ago by painter, poet, and Buddhist monk Hyakusetsu Genyō (poet) and Kuge Yaou (painter) a monk of the Tenryu-ji sect.
Dharma heir to Chinese monk Gaoquan Xingdun, Hyakusetsu Genyō began his spiritual practice in the Rinzai sect under his teacher Hyakuju. An important figure in the early Obaku tradition of Zen in Kyoto, Hyakusetsu was not only active in religious circles, but was also well-connected with the aristocracy and spent much of his time in cultural art circles—developing his skills as a painter and poet while also deepening his appreciation of tea ceremony. Today he is remembered most for the establishment of Hozoji temple in western Kyoto (1733). In Japan it is common for those involved in the arts to take on one or more artist’s name during their lifetime; here, Hyakusetsu uses the name “Chosetsu Roujin” to sign the poem that he inscribed on this painting. Many of Hyakusetsu’s paintings and writings survive today and are held by Museums and academic institutions around the world including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Hyogo Museum of History.
Little is know of the painter other than he was a Buddhist monk of the Tenryu sect, that he was close with the 16th head priest of Nishihongan-ji, and that, apart from his other artistic endeavors, he was mainly a scholar and practitioner of Okou (the art of preparing and using incense) in the well-known Yonekawa school. Here he uses the name Kuge Yaou but his usual artist’s name is Enan Ningaiko. We know that he lived from 1670 – 1752 and that his family name was Suguwara. Both of these figures, Hyakusetsu and Suguwara, were reported to have been closely acquainted with famed Ogata Kenzan (1663 – 1743), and are said to have resided on his estate for a time.
The writing on the scroll reads:
Two or three snow covered mountain peaks
One or two frigid boat voyages
Taking in the scenery of the drawing
Entering the pure water of twilight
(by) Chosetsu Roujin *(Poet: Hyakusetsu Genyo’s artist name)
Certification (stamp 1) (stamp 2)
(by) Kuge Yaou (artist’s name) in his 80th year (stamp)
Sumi on Japanese paper with silk border, this scroll is 115.5cm tall and 62.5cm wide. The artwork on the scroll is 26.5cm tall and 51.5cm wide and is signed and sealed by both artists (examples of signature and seals available upon request). In very good condition, it comes with a period wood box.