Title: Blossoming plum and crocus
Hanging scroll: ink and light colors on paper
Dimensions: Image: 45 5/8 x 20 1/4 inches (115.9 x 51.4 cm)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Frederick Baekeland
Object Number: 88.058.002
Although he declared himself a bunjin (scholar) painter, calligrapher and poet, Tessai was actually a rather syncretic artist who looked to many different sources in the development of his art. In addition to Chinese and Japanese literati traditions, he also learned from many Japanese indigenous schools, such as Kano, Rimpa and ukiyo-e, even experimenting some with Western-style painting.
Tessai's paintings of plum blossoms express not only his admiration of the scholar traditions of China and Japan, but also refer to the Chinese scholar Su Shi (1036-1101), whom the artist identified with since they shared the same birth month and day. With bold, vigorous brushwork he strives for the kind of spontaneous and natural expressions that reflect the truly cultivated man. The combination of forced plum with a pot of crocus conveys the seasonal association with New Year and the anticipation of spring.
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.