Chinese poem by the Tang dynasty literati Bo Juyi (772-846) entitled Twenty Rhymes composed for the strange and unequaled Taihu rock sent by Li Suzhou, followed by a Chinese colophon - Painted in the late autumn of gengchen year (1880), with the poetic intention of Bai Letian (Bo Juyi), and in the fourth hour written under the southern window of hanxuelou (House of Containing Snow) for the elegant enjoyment of Wusanweng.
Signed Rozan An Yo [Chinese: Loshan An Yang], with four seals:
[in Japanese] Nihon Yasu Rozan shoga no in (Japan Yasu Rozan book and painting seal), Banri-o (courtesy name),
[in Chinese] Yun shan wo shi (cloud and mountain are my teachers),
Ting che zuo ai feng lin wan, shuang ye hong yu er yue hua (I stop my carriage and sit in appreciation of the maple grove in twilight; the frost-covered leaves are redder than the spring flowers. - Two verses excerpted from a poem written by Tang dynasty poet Du Mu (803-852)
Born 1830 in Mino, Yasuda Rozan did not adopt his father's medical career and instead traveled to Nagasaki to study literati painting under Hidaka Tetsuo (1791-1871) and Xu Yuting (1824-?). Disguised as a Chinese merchant, he traveled to Shanghai in early 1867, becoming one of the first Japanese artists to study art techniques in China, a dangerous undertaking since he could have been executed for defying the exclusionary policies of Shogunate rule. In Shanghai, he committed himself to his studies with Hu Gongshou (1823-1886), soon becoming his top disciple. After six years of study, Rozan returned to Japan in 1873 (Meiji 6) where he achieved almost instantaneous acclaim and wealth in Tokyo as one of the most important painters of the early Meiji period, even requested to paint in front of the Meiji emperor. After his early death in 1883, at the age of 53, his reputation eventually began to diminish due to the nationalistic fervor beginning to permeate Japanese society in the Taisho and early Showa eras. His works were criticized for their 'contemporary Chinese style' partially derived from the Shanghai school (Haipai) with its bold, casual quality. Still a figure of controversy, Rozan's paintings have recently been the subject of reassessment by numerous scholars of Japanese literati painting in Japan and the West.
Paul Berry, "The Meeting of Chinese and Japanese Literati: Hu Gongshou, Yasuda Rozan, and the Controversy over National Style," in Literati Modern Bunjinga from Late Edo to Twentieth-Century Japan: The Terry Welch at the Honolulu Academy of Arts," by Paul Berry and Michiyo Morioka (Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2008), pp. 16-27.
Joshua A. Fogel, "Lust for Still Life: Chinese Painters in Japan and Japanese Painters in China in the 1860s and 1870s," in Acquistion: Art and Ownership in Edo-Period Japan, edited by Elizabeth Lillehoj (Warren, CT.: Floating World Editions, Inc., 2007), pp. 149-168.
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Honolulu Museum of Art
Poem by Bo Juyi (772-846) in the inscription