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Lady Under a Tree, one of the well-known masterpieces in the collection Master Jinsai built, was among the works in danger of being sold abroad. In the summer of 1952, before it had been designated an Important Cultural Property, Junkichi Mayuyama, of the Ryusendo, took it to the Committee for the Preservation of Cultural Properties and implored the government to buy it. Lady Under a Tree has a mate, Gentleman Under a Tree, and together the paintings depict the meeting of a man and a woman. The state had already purchased Gentleman Under a Tree, which had then become part of the collection of the Tokyo National Museum. For that reason, Mayuyama proposed the purchase of Lady Under a Tree, as well. But the government could not find the money, and the proposal came to naught.



Lady Under a Tree

Ogata Kōrin, circa 1710, Edo Period

T'ang Dynasty (618 - 907)

Colors on paper

Height 139.1 cm, width 53.3 cm

Important Cultural Property


Mayuyama then took Lady Under a Tree to Master Jinsai, in Hakone. A T'ang-dynasty Chinese genre painting, it is a major work of great merit in terms of the world's aesthetic and cultural history. Mayuyama explained that it had already attracted the attention of overseas buyers and was in danger of being sold abroad. When asked to buy it, Master Jinsai did so immediately at the asking price of five and a half million yen. Not long afterward these details appeared in a major story in the newspaper Tokyo Nichi-nichi Shimbun. At the height of the exodus, greater numbers of renowned artworks might have disappeared from the country if Master Jinsai had not made such purchases.

This painting was brought to Japan early in this century by an exploratory party sent to Central Asia by Kozui Otani, chief abbot of the Kyoto temple Nishi Hongan-ji. It is believed to have been excavated in the Turfan district of China.

Based on the wall paintings in recently excavated eighth and ninth-century Chinese tombs, the placement of figures and stones within a brown border seems to have been a convention of the times. The bold coloring and flowing lines are unsophisticated in this example of painting from the Turfan region, which was under the influence of T'ang China. The fashions of ninth-century China are reflected in the principle figure's dress and use of hairpins and cosmetics. Lady Under a Tree is significant as a rare example of a painting executed on paper that has survived since the T'ang dynasty.



Man Under a Tree

T'ang Dinasty (618 - 907)

Height: 140.0 cm Width: 54.9 cm







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