Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
This object does not yet have a description.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Kitagawa Sōsetsu 喜多川相説, Japanese (Kanazawa? active c. latter half 17th century–early 18th century)
Hibiscus Flowers and Wild Pinks
Work Type
hanging scroll, painting
Early Edo period, mid 17th century
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Edo period, 1615-1868
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper
painting proper: H. 104.5 x W. 40.3 cm (41 1/8 x 15 7/8 in.)
mounting, including cord and roller ends: H. 188 x W. 55.2 cm (74 x 21 3/4 in.)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Anonymous Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.


This painting depicts two seasonal flowers in an abstract and yet naturalistic composition; upright floral silhouettes rise gracefully from shadowy or imperceptible roots in a strikingly decorative design devoid of any visible ground plane. Individual plant forms are defined using a technique known as tarashikomi, in which black ink and/or mineral pigments have been splashed onto areas of still-moist ink wash, resulting in evocative pools of saturation. The evolution of such seemingly effortless and yet technically difficult decorative imagery also found expression in many other media during the Edo period (1615-1868), so that divisions between the various arts--such as painting, lacquerware, and metalwork--began to blur. Tarashikomi is one of the hallmarks of so-called Rimpa-style paintings--works done in emulation of Tawaraya Sōtatsu (died c. 1643), who is credited with having consciously evoked and updated the rich, allusive imagery of Japan's Heian-period (794-1185) past. The artist to whom this painting is attributed, Kitagawa Sōsetsu, appears to have been an accomplished and faithful mid-seventeenth-century follower in the direct line of Sōtatsu; however, many questions remain regarding Sōsetsu's identity and oeuvre. This work is likely one of a set of paintings depicting either the Flowers of the Twelve Months or the Flowers of the Four Seasons.

Exhibition History

  • Plum, Orchid, Chrysanthemum, and Bamboo: Botanical Motifs and Symbols in East Asian Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 07/06/2002 - 01/05/2003
  • Cultivating Virtue: Botanical Motifs and Symbols in East Asian Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 07/08/2006 - 04/08/2007

Verification Level

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at