Born in Yonezawa City, Yamagata Prefecture, in 1896, Sadao later moved to Tokyo to become a painter. He saw a solo exhibition by KISHIDA Ryusei and was so moved that he later paid a visit to the artist. He was involved in the founding of the Sodo-sha Fine Arts Society. With Ryusei, he learned realism from studying the work of Northern Renaissance painters such as Dürer or Van Dyke then later turned his attention to the study of Intai-ga (Chinese academy style painting of the Sung/Yuan dynasties). After Ryusei died in 1929 he traveled to Europe and gradually his style moved away from that of his mentor. When he produced the work shown here, he was experimenting with using oil paints to create Nanga school compositions.
The work here was submitted to the 21st Kokugakai exhibition. Using a horizontal format, it depicts red chilies in the center with a marrow on the left and a pumpkin on the right. These vegetables, standing in front of a simple, darkened background, have a unique sense of presence. TSUBAKI devoted his life trying to achieve realism and this still-life was produced when he was in his early fifties. It is signed and dated in the upper right-hand corner. There is an inscription on the rear of the canvas which says: ‘Painting begun /early morning of December twenty-first, 1946 / Painting of Marrow and Pumpkin / 1947 / Painted by Tsubaki Sadao’.