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Rough Seas
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Group: Forces of Nature

Artist: Tawaraya SOTATSU
Birth/Death: c.1630 (Active)

Title: Rough Seas
Date Made: early Edo period

Lender: Tokyo Fuji Art Museum

This eight-fold painted screen was created by Tawaraya S?tatsu, the founder of the Rimpa decorative school of painting. It dates from the 1630s.

S?tatsu used a variety of resources and techniques to create his elegant and refined images of waves breaking. He began with a background of gold leaf. The waves were painted onto the gold leaf using gold paint, a white glue powder made from crushed sea-shells, and an azure-blue colour, derived from lapis lazuli.

S?tatsu has depicted the waves as abstract patterns, seen from close up. They are striking images that benefit from his use of colour and line. The movement of the waves is emphasised by the artist’s smooth flowing lines, and his use of white highlights on the wave crests. Their shape is strongly defined by the contrast between the colour of the waves, and the dark background.

This contrasting of dark and light, and the use of bold outline to emphasise form, can also be seen in Monet’s Rocks at low tide, Pourville. Monet would have observed this technique in a variety of Japanese paintings and prints.

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