About the Works

White Elephant and Black Bull

Nagasawa Rosetsu

  • White Elephant and Black Bull / Nagasawa Rosetsu
  • White Elephant and Black Bull / Nagasawa Rosetsu

These images are based on the high resolution facsimile produced by the Tsuzuri Project. Unauthorized copying, duplication, or transfer of these images is strictly prohibited.

Nagasawa Rosetsu
Historical era:
Edo (18th century)
printed, gold paint on washi paper
pair of six-fold screens
High Resolution Facsimile of Japanese Art Abroad
Each screen measures H155.3 × W359.0 cm
Sendai City MuseumMAP
Current owner:
Etsuko & Joe price collection
ink, gold paint on washi paper

This is a masterpiece of Nagasawa Rosetsu, who has gained popularity in recent years as an eccentric painter with similarities to Ito Jakuchu and Soga Shohaku. Rosetsu was born to a samurai family in Kyoto and studied under Maruyama Okyo, a leading Edo-period painter. He revealed his talent early on and performed brilliantly as a senior disciple of Okyo. The bull and elephant in this work reflect the outstanding technique of the Maruyama school, which emphasizes reality. However, Rosetsu's wit is even more appealing. The bold composition of the white elephant and the black bull, which are so large they almost seem burst from the pair of six-fold screens, fully reflects Rosetsu's sense of beauty, which has remained fresh for more than 200 years. The same can be said of the exquisite contrast between large and small and black and white evident in the arrangement of the small black birds and white puppy that respectively emphasize the huge size of the elephant and bull.

About the Works