At Ease in the Countryside: Scholars and Fishermen

Artist: Yamamoto Baiitsu 山本梅逸 (1783-1856)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 19th century
Ink and light color on paper
H x W (.1): 170.2 x 343.3 cm (67 x 135 3/16 in) H x W (.2): 170.2 x 373 cm (67 x 146 7/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Screens (six-panel)

child, Edo period (1615 - 1868), fishing, Japan, landscape, scholar
Provenance research underway.

On the screen at right, a grove of stately pines, two Chinese scholars enjoy the music of the koto, while young attendants prepare tea for their enjoyment.  Playing music on the qin was considered to be one of the four noble pursuits of the Chinese scholar, together with calligraphy, painting and chess.  The ideal was adopted by the Japanese, and is beautifully expressed in this serene and dignified painting. The pleasures of rural life are a frequent theme of Chinese scholar-painters. For them, as well as for the Japanese Nanga painters who adopted their ideals, the lives of fishermen represented freedom from the burdens of official duties. The lively and convival mood of the scene on the left screen contrasts to the quiet dignity of the screen of Scholars in a Pine Grove.
     The painter, Yamamoto Baiitsu, was a native of the city of Nagoya who studied Chinese paintings of the Ming and Ch'ing dynasties through his association with a wealthy collector.  These screens are considered to be one of the finest surviving works by Baiitsu.  Especially in the fine brushwork depicting the pine needles, his mastery of Chinese painting techniques can be appreciated.

Published References
  • Zaigai Nihon no Shiho [Japanese Art: Selections from Western Collections]. 10 vols., Tokyo, 1979 - 1980. vol. 6: p. 133, pls. 11-12.
  • Zaigai hiho [(Japanese Paintings in Western Collections]. 3 vols., Tokyo. vol. 1: pt. I & II, pp. 124-125, vol. 1, pt. I & II, pl. 98.
  • Takeuchi Shoji. Men of Noble Character Enjoying Themselves by Playing a Koto and Fishing by Baiitsu Yamamoto. no. 793 Tokyo, April 1958. pls. 5-6.
  • Patricia Jane Graham. Yamamoto Baiitsu: His Life, Literati Pursuits, and Related Paintings. Ann Arbor. pls. 159-160.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 64, vol. 2: p. 173.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 141.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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