Walking along Miho-no-Matsubara beach one morning a fisherman finds a beautiful robe hung on a pine branch. So what? One might think. - But thus begins the story of one of the most popular Noh plays, Hagoromo, the Feather Robe. Obviously the fisherman can't keep the robe because it belongs to the celestial maiden depicted in this scroll. She performs a dance which describes the Palace of the Moon, and praises the beauty of Miho-no-Matsubara - The Miho Pine Grove - in spring. In the end she disappears in the haze, beyond the peak of Mount Fuji.
Ota Cho-u was born in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture. He went to Tokyo to study under Maeda Seison. After World War II, he was appointed as an associate professor at Tokyo University of the Arts. He worked on a wide range of themes, including flowers and birds, historical subjects and contemporary customs, and he established a decent, sophisticated style of painting.
But what makes this scroll outstanding as a piece of art is something completely different. It is the mounting! - The illusion of a mounting. A complete tromp-l'oeuil. All you see is painted on one piece of fabric.
Ota Chou (1896-1958)
59.5 x 25.5 cm (23 ½ x 10 in.)
Mounting 140.5 x 36 cm (55 ¼ x 14 in.)