painting proper Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Like Tani Bunchō (1763–1841), whose works are displayed nearby, Gentai borrowed from the idioms of professional Chinese painting that were otherwise anathema to the amateur literati tradition. As a result, he developed a style previously unwitnessed in Edo painting. Peach Blossom Spring derives from a prose preface by Chinese poet Tao Yuanming (365–427), in which a fisherman chances upon a paradisal realm after passing through a cave hidden by blossoming peach trees. He returns home to tell others of his discovery, only to fail to find it again. Gentai’s rendering follows the ancient tradition of using azurite blue and malachite green to endow the mountains that shelter the utopian village with sacred meaning.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Watanabe Gentai, Japanese (1749 - 1822)
Peach Blossom Spring
Work Type
hanging scroll, painting
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Edo period, 1615-1868
Persistent Link
Level 3, Room 3610, University Teaching Gallery
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Physical Descriptions
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
painting proper: H. 155.2 × W. 79 cm (61 1/8 × 31 1/8 in.)
overall mounting, including roller ends and suspension cord: H. 224.8 × W. 107 cm (88 1/2 × 42 1/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • seal: top: Bei Ei
  • seal: bottom: Azana Euki
  • inscription: Wata[nabe] Ei Sei
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Promised gift of Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Publication History

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, exh. cat., Yomiuri Shinbunsha (Tokyo, 2013), p. 96, cat. 37

Rachel Saunders and Yukio Lippit, Painting Edo: Selections from the Feinberg Collection of Japanese Art, exh. cat. (Cambridge, MA, 2020), p. 82, fig. 72

Exhibition History

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, 05/21/2013 - 07/15/2013; Miho Museum, 07/20/2013 - 08/18/2013; Tottori Prefectural Museum, 10/05/2013 - 11/10/2013

Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/14/2020 - 07/18/2021

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

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