The Tea-House of the Slender Tree

Evening by Mortimer Menpes. 1901. Watercolor. Source: Japan: A Record in Colour, facing p. 96. Mempes waxes lyrical about the changing light at the end of the day: "As the silver evening gradually changed to purple night — a purple only seen in Japan — the festoons of lanterns which illuminated the summer-houses became of one colour with the landscape, and then, as the night darkened to a deeper purple, the lights changed to bright orange. It would be impossible to put such colours on canvas: the only way to represent them would be by precious stones" (110-11). Here he tries to capture sunset in the countryside, There are no lanterns, but there are hints of trees and buildings ahead on the path, and, beyond them, undulating hills bathed in that challenging purple twilight. The more one looks at this painting, the more one sees in it, which is just what Menpes (much taken with the Japanese way of intent looking, of the kind that Ruskin recommended) would have wished. — 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. 27 June 2019.

Created 27 June 2019