Inscription and 3 seals in right margin: painted copy of Wang Miens seals, 1) Chu-chai t'u wei, 2) Kuai-chi chia shan, and 3) Fang wai ssü ma; Inscription on right: Below the solitary peak above West lake, remains the open forest of many plum trees; the old trunks and stones stripped of melancholy snow; only the theme of flowers is associated since ancient times, signed Wang Yüan Chang; Copy of colophon by Wu Chang (an owner of the Wang Mien original) on left, signed Wu Chang, no seals; Inscription by Baiitsu in lower left: On the 23 day of the eigth month, in the autumn of the year Teimi (1847) Yamamoto Baiitsu Ryo immitated. followed by the artist's seal: Bai-itsu
The prunus branch depicted by Baiitsu makes use of the long vertical form provided by the hanging scroll format. The branch enters the visual field from the top right, and curves downward toward the bottom of the scroll. On either side of the branch are sections of calligraphic text.
This painting exemplifies one of the ways Japanese artists learned from Chinese models: it is a direct copy of a work by the Yuan dynasty artist Wang Mien. Baiitsu placed thin sheets of paper over the original and traced the contours of the branches in pale ink; then, looking at the two works side-by-side, he painted in the washes, imitating Wang’s “flying white” brush strokes. Baiitsu even copied Wang’s original inscription and seals, as well as a colophon by a later owner of the work.
This brocade makes use of gold thread, creating a composite that shimmers. the warm, muted tones of the gold are matched in color selections of light blue, dark blue, yellow, mauve, silvery white, and muted green threads. Two textile fragments have been sewn into a gold background. On the left is a rectangular segment of a blue and green dragon among clouds. The right segment is a floral decoration of a variety of plants and colors, interspersed with horizontal lines.
The textile to the left, is possibly part of an obi (sash for kimono) and decorated with kinran, one of many techniques for incorporating precious metals like gold into fabric.
The fabric to the right was once part of a garment worn by an actor playing a female role in traditional Noh drama. With its cool color scheme and autumnal plants (pine, bush clover, and pinks), it evokes a melancholy mood. The weaving technique seen here is known as karaori, meaning “Chinese weave,” as it was originally developed in China.
The colorful strips of brocade at the top and bottom of this panel feature a woven design of ivy and peonies entwined around cartwheels, bamboo, and stylized diamonds. A wide rectangular fragment of an obi (sash for kimono) lie at the center of the textile. It is an almost abstract design of boats tossed in a frothy sea. The warm, muted tones of the gold are matched in color selections of mauve, and muted purple, blue, and green threads.
Both the bold, clear design and the narrow width of the cloth suggest that these may have been part of the sash for a Noh drama costume.
The wide fragment of an obi (sash for kimono) is a superb example of float-stitch embroidery, in which long sections of untwisted floss are attached to the fabric only at the edge of the embroidered motif; here the float stitches are used for the boat sails. The technique is one that came to Japan from China in the sixteenth century.
A medium size, well potted porcelain jar with wooden rid, round shoulder and neck. Floral designs are painted with blue underglaze and red and gold overglaze enamels. There are Chinese scholar and attendant boy with a fan on one side and Japanese lady in kimono on the opposite side, painted with enamels. Band of flowers on the neck, another broader band of chrysanthemums on the shoulder. There is also a band of leaf patterns on the bottom. A large crack from neck to the middle of the body; porcelain glaze has small cracks all over the body. The foot is unglazed; the eye is fully glazed. No glaze on the rim. The teak wood lid, a later addition, has a finial made of an ivory netsuke of laughing Hotei.
The Chinese sage with an attendant and flower maiden might be T’ao Yüan-ming, celebrated scholar and poet in Tang period. After his early retirement, he lived in his little estate where he planted many chrysanthemums and other flowers, and enjoyed drinking wine. The pot-bellied, half naked man Hotei is one of the “Seven gods of felicity,” the god of contentment and happiness. Partly Taoist and partly Buddhist origin, he is generally identified with the Chinese priest known as Pu-tai Ho-shang. The date is unknown; he is stated to have lived in the 6th, 7th, and 8th centuries. He carries a bag which is said to contain “precious things” (takaramono).