Signed Tesshū with seals Okajima Gain (Painting seal of Okajima) and Tesshū
Born in Kanazawa, Okajima Tesshū moved to Tokyo where he participated in Japan's national salon in 1914, when he showed a pair of two-panel screens of hollyhocks, entitled Shoka no hi (Early Summer Day) at the Eighth Bunten Exhibition; this is probably the work that was presented again the following year under the English-language title Early Summer Day at the San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exhibition.1 In 1919 Tesshū received the Imperial Prize at the Nihonga Anonymous Exhibition held in Kyoto.
The style of this remarkably accomplished large-scale composition points to a date in the early years of the Showa era. Here Tesshū fully embraces the rich, decorative manner that was in vogue at the time, especially for the depiction of exotic, imported subject-matter: the turkey is not native to Japan and had been rarely depicted in art before this date. Reviving the gorgeous colors and dramatic pattern-making typical of works of the Rinpa tradition (dating back to the seventeenth century), the artist also makes lavish use of gofun (powdered calcified shell) to build up the texture of the hydrangea leaves and blooms.
Nitten Hensan Iinkai 日展編纂委員会, Bunten, Teiten, Shinbunten, Nitten shuppinreki sakuin文展・帝展・新文展・日展出品歴索引 (An Index of Exhibitors at the Bunten, Teiten, Shinbunten, and Nitten Exhibitions). Tokyo: Nitten Hensan Iinkai日展編纂委員会, 1990, p. 12. Hakurankwai Kyokwai (Société des Expositions), Japan and Her Exhibits at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition, Tokyo, The Japan Magazine Co., 1915, p. 156.