Ogata Kenzan was one of the three great masters of painted ceramics in the Edo period (1615–1868). He developed an imaginative ceramic style characterized by a harmony between deftly painted designs and simple, sturdy ceramic forms. His workshop, based in Kyoto and later in Edo (Tokyo), also developed innovative uses of pigments and glazes. His distinctive style of freely brushed grasses, blossoms, and birds was employed especially for decorating tea ceramics.
Kenzan’s early training as a painter is evident in the Bowl with Bamboo Leaf Design, where the thinness and tonal variations of the brushwork are evocative of ink painting. Both the intentionally asymmetrical shape, and the sharp-edged leaves and contrasting colors and textures of the glazes, reflect the aesthetics of the tea ceremony, which were designed to appeal to different senses during the extended ritual of drinking. The bowl was originally part of a set of five or perhaps ten vessels that may have been made as mukozuke (side dishes) or kumidashi chawan (cups used for serving tea in a waiting room). Although the graceful design of the Bowl with Pampas Grass Design is just as carefully conceived, the end result appears more casual, with the bright green glaze dripping onto either side of the bowl. It was originally one of a larger set of futa-chawan (covered tea bowls) used for serving steamed food.
(Jean-Pierre Dubosc [1904-1988], Paris), possibly sometime between 1929 and 1947;
purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1971.