The boy in this painting appears to be Chinese, placing the work within the East Asian painting tradition known as “Chinese children playing” (karako–asobi). Even when Sōtatsu had a model, however, his reinterpretation of the subject was a hallmark of his artistry. With a soft, relaxed line that is not apparent in Chinese painting and his modest and effective use of the tarashikomi technique, Sōtatsu overturned the standards that had been associated with Japanese ink painting since the Muromachi period (1392–1573) to depict a tranquil, endearing everyday scene. The bluish tint of the silk seems to be original and suggests some experimentation by Sōtatsu or his studio.
A Child Holding a Spotted Puppy
Tawaraya Sōtatsu (act. ca. 1600–40)
Japan, early 17th century
Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)
Ink and tint on paper
Freer Gallery of Art, Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1902.37