Playful Cat | Hirose Toho (1875-1930) | Japanese scroll painting



Playful Cat

(Tawamureru Neko   戯る 猫)

Hirose Toho (1875-1930)  廣瀬 東畝

Hanging scroll, ink, mineral pigments and gofun on silk.

Painting inscription: Toho Sha  東畝 寫

Painting seals:

Upper – Hirose Hitoshi  廣瀬 濟

Lower – Go Toho  号 東畝

Box inner inscription: Toho Jidai  東畝 自題

Box inner seal: Toho  東畝

Taisho period, mid to late 1920’s.


Scroll 222 cm x 100 cm (87” x 39”)

Image 183 cm x 84 cm (72” x 33”)

Price: USD 14000

Painted during the mid to late 1920’s, at the height of the Nihonga’s short and brilliant foray into luminous naturalism, the artist depicts a young cat dabbing at goldfish in a pond amidst the lush green foliage and blooming flowers of a spring garden. As the title ‘Playful Cat’ suggests the mood of the painting is light and full of optimism. With very fine brushwork, Toho uses gofun or clam shell gessho to detail the fur of the cat. A soft light suffuses the painting enabling the pigments to glow intensely. Malachite green details the foliage in moriage relief. The red and orange hues of the goldfish are echoed in the blooming quince and ripening fruit. The composition sees the cat framed protectively by the verdant greenery and shadowed rocks. The strong diagonal line of the painting leads upwards from the pond before our vision is drawn to the open spaces following the reaching branches and brilliant colours of the quince bush.

Hirose Toho (1875-1930) was originally from Kochi in Shikoku. A highly respected Nihonga artist in the early 20th century, he excelled in bird and flower paintings. He originally studied nanga painting under Amano Soseki, at which time he used the painting name Enseki. In 1898 he moved to Tokyo and began studying under Araki Kampo. He exhibited at the Bunten on six occasions and some of those paintings were purchased by the Imperial Household. He exhibited at the Teiten in 1927 and 1929 when he was granted mukansa or non-vetted status. He served as a juror for the Teiten exhibition in 1928. He also exhibited with other groups including the Nihon Bijutsu Kyokai and was a member of the Nihongakai. He also taught at both the Tokyo Girls University and the Tokyo Institute of Technology.