Moonlight Bamboo Artist: Ike no Taiga (Japanese, 1723–1776)

ca. 1758–60

Asian Art

Not on view

Ike no Taiga was arguably the most celebrated literati artist in eighteenth-century Japan. In this painting, Taiga’s gigantic bamboo trunks, embellished with wispy clusters of leaves rustling in a light breeze, are formed with a superb range of ink tones. Taiga’s poem reads, “Playing the koto [zither] in a bamboo grove, the moon, for sure, comes [to shine upon me].” Though there is no moon in the composition, bamboo leaves rendered in light ink evoke moonlight, while a meditative silence emanates from the empty space at right. The blank space reflects Taiga’s desire to be one with nature, like a Daoist, and may also reveal his profound understanding of the Zen philosophy of “nothingness.”

Medium

Six-panel folding screen: ink on paper

Dimensions

without mounting: 60 15/16 × 141 1/8 in. (154.8 × 358.4 cm)
with mounting: 67 5/8 × 147 13/16 in. (171.8 × 375.4 cm)

Credit Line

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund

Accession Number

2005.12.1

Geography
Culture
Period

Edo period (1615–1868)

Classification
Disclaimer

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.

Provenance

Provenance

Family of Shibata Genshichi, Omi, Japan [see note 1]. Acquired by James Freeman, Kyoto, Japan, by 2005; sold to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2005

Note 1: This screen was owned by the family of Shibata Genshichi ???? in Omi ?? (??) on the shores of Lake Biwa, northeast of Kyoto. People from this area commissioned Taiga, particularly when he was relatively young, in his thirties. The painting style of this screen indicates a date circa 1758 when he would have been around 35 years old, and it corresponds with the time of Taiga's activities in that region.

Current Shibata Genshichi is the 10th generation (4/18/2015) in Nagahama ???The family made a fortune by the wrincled type of cloth called chirimen cloth ??. So far The signed Dokuseishitsu ??? on the back of the screen has not yet been identified as the studio/collectors' name of the Shibata family. SO 5/2023
Bibliography
  • Sadako Ohki, "What Makes Japanese Painting Japanese," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007), 66–70, 78–80, fig. 1, 2
  • Sadako Ohki, "Japanese Art at Yale," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007), 42
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

Nature

Subject

bamboo moonlight

Marks

The back of the extreme right panel at the top close to the left edge bears the title of the painting followed by two seals: "Doku sei shitsu zō shoga" (calligraphy and painting owned by the [inhabitant of] 'solitary awake room') 獨醒室蔵書画 in relief and "Shibata Genshichi" also in relief. The back of the extreme left panel also bears the first seal.

Inscriptions

"Chikuri dankin sengetsu itaru" in seven characters meaning "I play the koto in the bamboo grove, the moon for sure comes [to shine upon me]."\r\n竹裏弾琴千月至\r\n\r\n\r\n

Signed

"Kyūka Sanshō sha" 九霞山樵写 (Nine Mist Mountain Woodcutter depicted); sealed: "Ike Mumei in" 池無名印 (Ike without fame sealed) and "Gyokkō kōan ri" 玉皇香案吏 (Officer to the Jade Emperor's Incense Table)

Technical metadata and APIs

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