Gazing at a Waterfall


early 1500s

Sōami 相阿弥

(Japanese, d. 1525)
Painting: 29 x 30.1 cm (11 7/16 x 11 7/8 in.); Mounted with knobs: 113 x 47.6 cm (44 1/2 x 18 3/4 in.)
Location: 235A Japanese
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Did You Know?

The setting of this painting is historical China, as evidenced by the clothing and hairstyles of the two people appreciating the waterfall.


Chinese poet Li Bai’s (701–762) poem “Gazing at a Waterfall on Mount Lu” is about experiencing the vastness of the galaxy in relationship to one’s own being. Japanese Zen monk-poet Keijo Shūrin (1440–1518) identified Li’s poem as the inspiration for Japanese painter Geiami’s (1431–1485) work Gazing at a Waterfall, in the collection of the Nezu Museum, which features sharp brushstrokes and bright colors. In contrast, this album leaf’s painter, Geiami’s son Sōami, took a more delicate approach to the theme. The waterfall and the pair watching it frame the mist rising from the water at the center of the image.
Gazing at a Waterfall

Gazing at a Waterfall

early 1500s


(Japanese, d. 1525)
Japan, Muromachi period (1392–1573)

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