Crows in the Moonlight

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Artist Statement


Crows in the Moonlight is one of Sakai Hoitsu’s pieces that is directly modeled after an Ogata Korin work. It is a fantastic example of the characteristics of the Rinpa school with graphic, simple forms; innovative use of space; and golden tones. Though the Rinpa style originally focused on recreating scenes from classical literature, when Hoitsu revived the style in the nineteenth century, he shifted the themes to concentrate on natural images. In this piece, we’re on the same level as the dark avian forms, admiring their shapes in silhouette created by the large glowing moon.


Sakai Hoitsu | See All Editions


Sakai Hoitsu is regarded as one of the masters of the Rinpa school, based on the work of Ogata Korin. Born in 1761 to the lord of Himeji Castle, Hoitsu lived in Edo (now Tokyo) until 1780, when he moved to Kyoto to study painting. He studied many styles—Kano, ukiyo-e, Maruyama, and manga—until he settled on the Rinpa school. In 1797, citing poor health, he became a Buddhist monk with the Nishihongan Temple. While there, Hoitsu studied the works of Ogata Korin and his brother, Ogata Kenzan, working on reproducing a number of their works. Their work represented a shift, moving away from photo realism toward simple, bold forms. Hoitsu’s reproductions and original artworks helped revive this decorative style, making Ogata Korin a major influence even after his death. In addition to his work as a revivalist, Hoitsu became an accomplished painter and haiku poet in his own right before his death in 1829.

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For our Vintage Editions series, our curators scour historical archives for both timeless classics and heretofore unseen gems. These images come back to life as exhibition-quality prints now available to everyone. As a bonus, purchasing equals patronage: sales from Vintage Edition prints go towards supporting our growing roster of artists.