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Sunday 17 July 2016

Tanomura Chikuden’s ink painting of plum blossoms

Tanomura Chikuden (田能村 竹田) (pseudonyms: Nakaji, Rogashi, Chikudenroho, Chikudentonmin, Kachikuyusoshujin, Kujosenshi) (1777–1835).

Note: Although I am confident that this is a genuine painting by Tamomura Chikuden, based on the stylistic attributes of the artist that can be seen in the painting, the patina of age and the signature, I am not an expert in the field of Japanese painting. There is a strong tradition in the East of copying old masters artworks and this may—although I doubt it—be such a copy.

“Plum Blossoms” (descriptive title only and I may be wrong with my attribution of the type of flower represented. My understanding is that if this were a cherry blossom there would be a tiny split/nick at the ends of the petals.)
Bush and ink on tan paper supported on a silk faced washi paper inscribed with signature, stamp and lines of calligraphy text (I am unable to translate the text but would be VERY thankful for assistance with a translation).
Size: (sheet) 33.9 x 41.2 cm; (image) 25 x 34.2 cm
Condition: good condition, but with small losses where the painting has been rolled (I suspect that the sheet may once have been as scroll that has been cut to the present shape). The outer silk support sheet has minor light stains with minor fraying at the edges, otherwise in a clean condition.

I am selling this original painting of branches and blossoms by Tanomura Chikuden, famous for his delicate brushwork and capturing melancholic moods, for AU$390 (currently US$295.35/EUR268.12/GBP224.13 at the time of posting this painting) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this painting by a well-documented Japanese artist of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This painting has been sold

This lightly executed sketch showcases many of the key attributes that make Tanomura Chikuden’s paintings interesting. For instance, note how the artist has spatially separated the foreground twigs from those further away by changing his stroke from emphatically laid lines of opaque black ink at the front superimposed upon much softer strokes with many breaks laid in light grey ink.

Beyond the knowledge of how to express space through simple changes of brushstroke, there is also the well-known facet to this artist’s work that finds expression here: melancholy. 

Tanomura Chikuden’s paintings are valued for the melancholic mood that they project. In the seemingly simple lines of this painting, for example, note how dots are studded throughout the image. Although not all viewers will sense melancholy through these small jotted marks—after all, I doubt that any picture is ever experienced the same way by everyone—nevertheless, for me these tiny jabbed dots of ink constrain the fluidity of the larger brushstrokes with the feelings of hesitancy and even a smidgen of anxiety.

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