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Artist: Ohara Koson

Our Title: Owl's Moon

Date: ca. 1900s-10s 

Signed: Koson ( brushed )

Seal: Koson

Format: Watercolor painted using color and Sumi-e ink on thick paper.

Dimensions: 20" x 14"

Condition: Very good color and condition 


Comment: A Ryukyu Scops-owl appears ready to fly right off the branch in this masterpiece by Ohara Koson. Koson's portrayal of the owl is executed with extreme precision, showcasing Koson's skill with the brush. The eye gravitates to the owl's intense yellow gaze, which is painted with a hyperdetailed quality. A swirling world is fully displayed upon close examination, complete with running yellow rivers and valleys. As the eye moves beyond the owl, the image is affected using boke, a term coincidentally coined by the Japanese for the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image.

"Ryukyu Scops-Owl and Oriental Scops-Owl both have yellow to orangeish eyes; Japanese has a complete collar and more contrastingly pale facial disc. Vocalizations include a variety of meowing, croaking, and barking calls, as well as shrill screeches." 


There is an o-tanzaku woodblock print by Koson, pl. #81, p. 9 in Crows, Cranes & Camellias of an orange/red eyed owl, at night above a crescent moon. A watercolor of that design appears to be a similar format as the above watercolor is pl. # 81a. Perhaps a relative of the above watercolor.




Ohara Koson - Owl's Moon

  • Ohara Koson(Kanazawa 1877 – Tokyo 1945), a shin hanga artist, is considered the most prolific kacho(bird and flower)Japanese painter and print designer. He is famous for the near life like quality of his bird and flower woodblock designs, although a large part of that credit belogs to his master publisher, Watanabe Shozaburo, whose skill with laying color and detail on blocks was unrivaled. 

     Koson painted and designed woodblock prints for most of his life. Many of his woodblock idea's were taken directly from his paintings. Koson went through different peroids of switching between painting and printmaking. Some of His early prints were ukiyo-e triptychs executed in a "western style" depicting scenes from the  Russo-Japanese-War. 

             "He worked at first with publishers Akiyama Buemon (Kokkeidō) and M