Soga Shōhaku belongs to a group of eighteenth-century Japanese painters called “eccentrics” by virtue of their idiosyncratic painting styles (and often matching personalities). Here, Shōhaku’s blunt, bold brushstrokes, compressed angle of view, and dynamic contrast between the saturated black ink of the fronds and the pearl gray washes of the trunk and background make this painting of a palm tree seem to explode off the paper. Judging from the great number of surviving paintings, Shōhaku was prolific as well as innovative.
Soga Shōhaku (signed Kiyō)
Japanese (active Kyoto), 1730–1781
Ink on paper
83 x 26 1/4 in. (210.8 x 66.6 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 72.71.1