Tokuyama Gyokuran, Japanese, 1728 - 1784
Tokuyama Gyokuran was one of very few women included in the Edo period guide Who’s Who of Kyoto (Heian jinbutsu shi). She was noted for her composition of Japanese waka (poetry), but it was primarily her fame as an artist that merited her inclusion in the prestigious publication. This lovely landscape offers ample evidence of her skills. The pale blue-green of the willow trees forms the visual anchor of the composition as it zigzags over the lake and leads the eye to the bank of white plum blossoms before melting into the spring haze amid the rolling hills at top. The soft, supple brushwork and light application of the blue and pale salmon colors harmonize to create the spring atmosphere. Before entering the Museum’s collection, this scroll belonged to a woman artist living and working in Kyoto, Kajiwara Hisako (1896–1988).