Raku Tanyu | Letter
Letter to Gengensai, the 11th generation Iemoto of Urasenke:
“We have had fine weather, but the wind blows strongly today. I am happy to hear that you are fine. Have you asked Old Chikuto [=Nakabayashi Chikuto, 1776-1853] to lend you that small book? Is he going to send his assistant to me, or are you waiting to receive the book? By all means, I want to read it... since I've never seen it. I have only heard about it, which is why I'm asking. – This fifth day of the ninth month. [PS] Have you met Takuken again, whom I introduced to you the other day? – To Gengen-sai".
Tanyu and Gengensai were related professionally but apparently - as the letter is written in an intimate and casual style - they also were close friends. And they did not exclusively talk about tea and tea ware, but also about painting and surprisingly enough about literati painting. Gengensai must have told his friend about a small book written (or illustrated) by the outstanding literatus Nakabayashi Chikuto (1776-1853). And now, in this letter, Tanyu is asking about this book. Presuming that Tannyu was more interested in theoretical aspects of Chikuto's art (as opposed to mere illustrations), the "small book" he wanted to read so much may have been Chikuto's "Introduction to the Art of Painting" (Gado tebikigusa). Chikuto wrote this book, as well other treatises on art theory and guide books for painters, towards the end of his career, in the 1840s or early 50s. His writings provided a theoretical foundation for the Nanga or literati school of paintings.
Raku X Tannyu (1795-1854)
Letter to Gengensai (1810-1877)
Ink on paper
15.5 x 37.8 cm (6 x 14 3/4 in.)
Mounting 115 x 45.8 cm (45 1/4 x 18 in.)