"Tsuzuri Project" (Official Title: Cultural Heritage Inheritance Project)
By Kusumi Morikage (dates unknown)
Tokyo National Museum
Ink and light color on paper
Edo period, 17th century
Collection Ref. No.
This is the masterwork of Kusumi Morikage (dates unknown), a painter who broke with the Kanô school and went on to revolutionize the genre of painting known as "rural manners and customs." Morikage had been the leading student of Kanô Tan'yû (1602-1674), but after severing relations with the Kanô, Morikage went north to Kaga and worked for the Maeda clan.
Morikage's painting depicts a peasant family lounging under a calabash-vine arbor, basking in the twilight atmosphere of a cloud-draped moon at the close of a sweltering Indian summer day. The roughness of the weather-beaten rustic husband is indicated by thick ink lines delineating his arms; the contrast with the smooth, pliant body of his wife is underscored by the use of more slender, fluid lines to depict her paler skin. A mischievous little boy-his garment slipping off of one shoulder-lounges with his parents. The faces of the three figures are captured meticulously with fine brushwork, while a rapid, rough brush technique with traces of free-puddling ink describes the leaves of the calabash vine and the thatched roof. The artist, by consciously using dilute ink to suggest the twilight hour, has poignantly captured a harmonious moment of family life.
The subject of the painting is thought to have been inspired by the verse of the early Edo-period (1615-1868) poet Kinoshita Chôshôshi (1569-1649):
Under the blooming calabash trellis,
He in his loincloth,
She in her slip.