Geese & Reeds. Japanese Meiji Scroll Painting Pair by Mochizuki Gyokkei.



Geese and Reeds

Mochizuki Gyokkei (1874-1939)  望月玉渓

Pair of hanging scrolls, ink, color and gold on silk.

Inscription: Mochi Gyokkei  望 玉渓

Upper Seal: Shigenobu  重信

Lower Seal: Gyokuzen  玉禅


Scrolls (each): 217 cm x 110 cm (85” x 43”)

Images (each): 166 cm x 89 cm (65” x 35”)


A pair of monumental late Meiji period hanging scrolls by Mochizuki Gyokkei, the highly respected fifth-generation heir of the Mochizuki school of Japanese painting. 

This pair of hanging scrolls capture the mood of autumn, and poetic association between the seasons and migratory birds such as geese were firmly established in Japanese culture. The lyrical quality of the scene is clear, but they are also a fine example of Gyokkei’s mastery at maximizing the effect of negative space in large compositions. The paintings are meticulously executed with pale tones and soft washes of gold, the atmosphere is filled with serenity. The birds plumage has been rendered in fine detail, with sharply distinguished layers of feathers. 

Mochizuki Gyokkei (1874-1939) inherited his meticulous brushwork from his training in the style passed down from his great-grandfather Mochizuki Gyokusen (1692–1755). The Mochizuki school combined influences from the Chinese-style painting of the Nagasaki school founded by Shen Nanpin (ca. 1682-1780), and the Maruyama-Shijo school in Kyoto founded by Maruyama Okyo (1733-1795), which focused on naturalism. In 1855, Gyokkei’s father, Mochizuki Gyokusen (1834-1913), worked at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto painting sliding door panels. Even though he was only 21 years old at the time, he enjoyed considerable recognition as an important artist. Gyokkei himself received an imperial commission in 1912 when he painted sliding doors at Kyoto’s Heian Shrine. Both father and son exhibited their works at national and international exhibitions such as the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, and the Paris Exposition in 1900.