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Monkey Seated on a Wisteria Branch

Nagasawa Rosetsu

Artwork Details

Monkey Seated on a Wisteria Branch
1770s - mid 1780s
Nagasawa Rosetsu
hanging scroll, ink and color on silk
30 7/16 x 13 1/8 in. (77.31 x 33.34 cm); ;2 3/8 x 21 5/16 x 2 13/16 in. (6.03 x 54.13 x 7.14 cm)
Museum purchase made possible by the Friends of the Museum of Art
1986/1.166

On Display

Not currently on display

Description

Nagasawa Rosetsu
Japan, ca. 1754–1799
Monkey Seated on a Wisteria Branch
Edo period (1615–1868)
1770–80
Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk
Museum purchase made possible by the Friends of the Museum of
Art, 1986/1.166

Born and raised in the family of a low-ranking samurai (the ruling
military class), Nagasawa Rosetsu was an unconventional painter.
He was one of the most remarkable students of Maruyama Ōkyo
(1733–1795), who established the Maruyama school of painting, but
was eventually expelled from the studio due to his wild behavior.
While this was considered shameful, the separation allowed Rosetsu
to develop his own painting style. An extremely versatile artist, he
was fluent in many different techniques and a variety of subject
matters. The monkey in this work is chewing a wisteria blossom,
and the animal’s witty expression shows the artist’s ability to
capture a lively subject.

Summer 2023 Gallery Rotation 
__________

Born and raised in the family of a low ranking samurai, Rosetsu was eccentric and violent. He was one of the best of Okyo's pupils and in many ways, one of his most remarkable followers, but was eventually expelled from his studio. Although considered shameful, this separation allowed Rosetsu to develop his own painting style. An extremely versatile artist, he was fluent in many different techniques and a variety of subject matter. The monkey in this work is chewing a wisteria blossom. The animal's witty expression demonstrates the artist's ability to capture a lively aspect of nature.

Subject Matter:

"This painting is an example of Rosetsu using his skills and training to highlight different styles within his image. He paints in a naturalistic way that focuses on structured qualities found in the , while also combining those functional principles with aesthetic characteristics learned from Chinese literati painting, bunjinga."
"Both lyrical and poetic, the creation of the wisteria branches is reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy, which was often paired with landscape paintings. The branches gracefully wind up and through the painting, their delicate features appearing more majestic then overbearing. This lyricism was a style inspired by Chinese painting tradition."
"Nanga artists developed their own styles by using a variety of brushstrokes to gain new effects. Rosetsu shows a dynamic use of brushwork, especially concerning the way he represents the branches, flowers and leaves. All of the branches are made using thick, dark strokes that show no fine detail. Some areas are thicker then others, such as the trunks at the base of the wisteria plant compared to the branches holding the wisteria flowers. The plant’s dark coloring gives it a sturdy appearance compared to the wispy, white flowers dangling from the branches. The monkey’s fur is quite vibrant and unlike any of the other strokes. Soft and lightly-colored, the fur seems fuzzy, a contrasting texture when compared to the thick branches. The brushstrokes used to create the rings of water are also different. These lines move in and out of one another, creating the effect of rippling waves. These three specific places show a highly contrasted use of brushwork that unites the subject matter within the composition, while simultaneously allowing the artist to evoke his personal style in the image."

Grahl, Carrie. “Monkey Seated on a Wisteria Branch.” Japanese Landscapes, 18 Dec. 2009, japaneselandscape.wordpress.com/literati/naturalist-prints/monkey-seated-on-a-wisteria-branch/.

Physical Description:

"Rosetsu uses the wisteria tree to frame the painting and to create two separate planes, the foreground and the background. While doing this, he does not paint a very prominent background, thus making the foreground landscape more important and the focal point of the painting...The sinewy shape of the wisteria dominates the painting. There appear to be two separate trunks rooted to a small sliver of land pictured at the left side of the image. These trunks merge into one stem, forming a curve that snugly holds the monkey’s body. The branch continues upward, disappearing at one point until it reappears, winding around the right side of the painting. Rosetsu uses a dark ink to create the trunk and branches of the wisteria, and there does not appear to be any indication of shading or altering the color to appear lighter. This darkening is especially noticeable compared to the stark, white flowers at the top of the painting. Their stems are soft and wispy, as if they are floating in the air."

Grahl, Carrie. “Monkey Seated on a Wisteria Branch.” Japanese Landscapes, 18 Dec. 2009, japaneselandscape.wordpress.com/literati/naturalist-prints/monkey-seated-on-a-wisteria-branch/.

Usage Rights:

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