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Two Men Observing a Waterfall

Two Men Observing a Waterfall

1500-1525

Soami

(Japanese, d. 1525)

Hanging scroll; ink and slight color on paper

Image: 29 x 30.1 cm (11 7/16 x 11 7/8 in.); Overall: 113 x 47.6 cm (44 1/2 x 18 3/4 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1977.30

Description

The Japanese first appreciated the waterfall as a religious motif in the Kamakura period painting of Nachi waterfall. Later, during the Muromachi period, the literati theme of Gazing at the Waterfall, as inspired by Li Bai’s 6th-century poem, gained popularity among Zen monks who composed Chinese-style poetry called Gozan Bungaku (Five Mountains literature). A Rinzai school monk-poet, Keijo Shurin (1440–1518) identified Li’s poem as the inspiration for Geiami’s 15th-century painting Gazing at Waterfall (Nezu Museum), which features very sharp brushstrokes and bright colors. In contrast, Geiami’s son Soami followed the Chinese Southern Song style more faithfully in this small painting.

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