Tabby Cat (Important Cultural Property)

Takeuchi Seihō1924

Yamatane Museum of Art

Yamatane Museum of Art
Tokyo , Japan

The model for this painting was a cat owned by the mistress of a neighborhood vegetable shop owner that Seihô encountered while traveling in Numazu. The form of the cat is reminiscent of one painted by the Chinese Song dynasty emperor Huizong, and this stimulated Seihô's desire to paint the animal. So he brought the cat back to Kyoto with him and observed the cat playing in his studio night and day, carefully sketching to create this image. The lack of background, and the green stare of the cat, looking at the viewer as he licks his back, is particularly impressive. The soft texture of the cat's fur, rendered in black ink, gofun (oyster shell white) and gold paint is so realistic it almost appears touchable.
A single cat is placed almost in the center of the page, against a blank background. The signature appears on the other end of the diagonal axis that runs through the cat’s extended front leg, a carefully considered compositional ploy. Seihô saw the cat at a vegetable shop on his travels in Numazu, and in that instant thought of the cat painting by the Song emperor Huizong and was struck by a desire to paint him. Exchanging the cat for one of his own paintings, Seihô returned with the cat to Kyoto where he photographed and sketched the cat repeatedly until he set upon the completion of this work. The soft and silky fur is rendered in layered strokes of black ink and ochre, with further hairs added in ink and gofun (oyster shell white), while the eyes were drawn in azurite, malachite and gold powder.


  • Title: Tabby Cat (Important Cultural Property)
  • Date Created: 1924
  • Location Created: Kyoto, Japan
  • 材質・技法(日本語): 絹本・彩色・額(1面)
  • 作家名(日本語): 竹内栖鳳
  • 作品名(日本語): 班猫 【重要文化財】
  • Physical Dimensions: w1016 x h819 mm
  • Painter: Takeuchi Seihō
  • Type: Nihonga (Modern Japanese Paintings)
  • Rights: Yamatane Museum of Art, Japan, © Yamatane Museum of Art, 2013
  • Medium: Color on Silk

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