Tea-house by the River

Tea-house by the River by Mortimer Menpes. 1901. Watercolor. Source: Japan: A Record in Colour, facing p. 20. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Much later in the book, Menpes visits Osaka, already a busy industrial hub, where he admits that "Western ugliness has invaded certain quarters." Yet even here he feels that "the artistic feeling predominates," and is charmed by the buildings on the river banks.

The quaint roofs, although formed in straight lines, seem to rise and fall in gentle undulations. There is nothing abrupt or rugged; nothing jars. And the colours are as varied as the roofs. In the upper reaches of the rivers the scenes never cease to charm. Clusters of half a dozen boats forming a mass of decorative woodwork, tea-houses with tiny gardens running down to the water’s edge and gaily-dressed geishas leaning over the trellised verandahs, light bridges thrown in graceful outline against the purple horizon, — all combine to complete a picture as broad as a study by Rembrandt, as infinite in detail as a masterpiece by Hobbema. [103]

There are no boats or bridges in the painting itself, and the scene may well be set in Kyoto, but here at least are the quaint, undulating roofs and the tea-house right at the water's edge. — Jacqueline Banerjee

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Menpes, Dorothy. Japan: A Record in Colour. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1901. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of California Libraries. Web. 21 June 2019.

Created 21 June 2019