MEMBERS PICK | MONKEY REACHING FOR THE MOON

MEMBERS PICK | MONKEY REACHING FOR THE MOON

MEMBERS PICK | OHARA KOSON | MONKEY REACHING FOR THE MOON

This members pick is a woodblock print by Ohara Koson of a monkey reaching for the reflection of the moon in the water. The owner states: I was immediately attracted to this print because of the strong image of the monkey hanging on to a branch reaching down to the reflection of the moon in the water and because of the use of light and dark, with the reflection of the moon lighting the monkeys face. The monkey is playful and serious at the same time, reaching for the impossible. 

The image represents a common Buddhist theme that has been represented by many Japanese artists. In the story a monkey holds on to a branch and attempts to seize the reflection of the moon in water. It fails when the branch from which the monkey hangs breaks. In another version of the story a group of monkeys spots the moon on the surface of the water. They want to save the moon and collaborate making a hanging chain from a branch. When the last monkey touches the water, the moon disappears, the branch cracks and the monkeys fall into the water. The monkeys in the both versions of the story stand for the unenlightened people who cannot distinguish between reality and illusion.

The artist Ohara Koson 小原古邨 (1877-1945) was active in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. His work van be found in many collections, such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam which has a large collection of his prints.

Object details: woodblock print 185 x 345 mm, signature Koson, seal Koson, publisher Daikokuya (ref. Amy Reigle Newland, Jan Perree and Robrt Schaap, Crows, Cranes and Camelias, the natural world of Ohara Koson 1877-1845, Japanese Prints from the Jan Peree collection, Hotei Publishing Leiden 2011, K41.25), date a. 1900-1936 (ref. Rijksmuseum object details, RP-P-2000-349).

Call for member's picks
Do you have an interesting object or a personal favourite you would like to showcase? It can be an object from your collection, but also a personal favorite form a museum or another collection. You can submit a photograph and a short post, with a description of the object and a short explanation why this object is special to you to the secretary. Your pick will be posted on our website and social media. Members picks can be anonymous.

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