Sōtatsu: Making Waves

Waves at Matsushima

Waves at MatsushimaOgata Kōrin was the most famous exponent of the Sōtatsu style. Born into a wealthy merchant family who operated Kariganeya, a prestigious drapery shop in Kyoto, he embarked on a painting career when he reached middle age. He created a number of works based on Sōtatsu paintings, including Waves of Matsushima and The Gods of Wind and Thunder at Kenninji, a temple in Kyoto. This painting approximates Sōtatsu’s famous version of the Waves theme but also differs in key ways. Kōrin likely saw the image of a pine-studded rock as a fine template for describing the Daoist paradise of Mount Penglai, which was associated with immortality and longevity. Although this work has been heavily retouched in the rocks and pines and possibly around the signature and seal, it is nonetheless a masterful work by Kōrin.

Ernest Fenollosa (1853–1908), scholar, collector, connoisseur, and advisor to Charles Lang Freer, acquired this screen in 1880 while he was living in Japan. In 1886, he sold it to Dr. Charles Goddard Weld (1857–1911), a wealthy Boston physician.

Waves at Matsushima
Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716)
Japan, early 18th century
Six-panel screen
Ink, color, and gold on paper
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Fenollosa-Weld Collection, 11.4584

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