Puppy (Fan Painting)

By Nagasawa Rosetsu
Mid-Edo period, 18th century
Homma Museum of Art Collection
Designated Cultural Property of Sakata City

This painting is of a puppy showing its belly with its tongue hanging out. Its nose and snout are depicted with a circle. Although its ears are comically small, and the nose large relative to the eyes, it retains an exquisite balance between its features. The loose brushwork lends an attractive energy to the painting, and it is delightful to imagine the dog’s tipsy appearance when the fan is unfolded.

Nagasawa Rosetsu (1754–1799) was a painter active during the mid-Edo period. He studied painting under Maruyama Ōkyo, and while he mastered his teacher’s painting style, he also developed a sharp, witty and individualistic style of his own, making him unique among Ōkyo’s students. Ōkyo is said to have been the first to concisely capture the charm of real puppies, while Rosetsu depicted puppies in a more freewheeling style and a more human touch.