Ikeda Koson, Shrike and Autumn Plants, a hanging scroll painting


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

This work evokes the atmosphere of autumn, with a brown shrike perched on a leafless tree and a profusion of grasses and flowers below. The grey tones of the ink used for the tree-trunk and distant pampas-grasses in the mist are contrasted with the dazzling green ivy, red lacquer-tree leaves, burnets, and daisies, creating a decorative quality typical of the Rimpa school, to which Koson belonged.

Ikeda Koson (1801-66) was originally from Echigo province (modern Niigata Prefecture), but went to Edo (modern Tokyo), where he studied with Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1828), the leading Rimpa artist there. He painted the popular, colourful kachōga (bird-and-flower paintings), but he later took up study of Chinese ink paintings of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and began to paint in this style. Here he has managed to fuse the two: the foreground is clear-cut and colourful, with full use made of the Rimpa technique of tarashi-komi for a puddled-colour effect on the ivy leaves. In the background, however, the scene fades into misty ink washes, and two small birds flying low are done in pale ink, reminiscent of a shadow-picture. The tree-trunk also is done in the mokkotsu ('boneless') method derived from ink-painting, where no outlines are used.

The signature reads 'Koson Sanshin sha', and the seals read 'Sanshin Shin in' and 'Ren'an'.


  • Title: Ikeda Koson, Shrike and Autumn Plants, a hanging scroll painting
  • Date Created: 1830/1866
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 121.50cm; Width: 51.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: bird and flower
  • Registration number: 1881,1210,0.810
  • Production place: Painted in Edo
  • Producer: Painted by Ikeda Koson
  • Period/culture: Edo Period
  • Material: silk
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Anderson, William

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