Kawasaki Yoshitaro, ed., Choshunkaku kansho, vol. 2 (Tokyo: Kokkasha, 1914), no. 14 (Cotton Rose and Small Birds)
Narazaki Muneshige, "Geiai hitsu kachozu ni tsuite" (On the pictures of flowers and birds by Geiai) Kokka 704 (November 1950) (Hollyhocks and Small Bird)
Yamamoto Hideo, "Geiai shiron" (Preliminary essay on Geiai) Gakuso 23 (March 2001), fig. 5.
These long-lost paintings by an enigmatic, highly prized painter working in Kyoto in the late fifteenth century have been rediscovered in an American collection. Only a small number of works with "Geiai" seals are known and there is virtually no biographical information about the artist. A date of 1489 on a document with an underdrawing by Geiai is the only clue to his period of activity. These two elegant, polychrome bird-and-flower paintings are in Chinese Ming academy style, a reflection of the vogue for mainland art forms in the Muromachi period (1392-1573). They belong to a set of twelve bird and flower images originally pasted on a pair of small folding screens. One of the twelve is preserved in the Kyoto National Museum. One of the two shown here was published in 1914 in the six-volume catalogue of the collection of Kawasaki Shozo (1837-1912), Choshunkaku kansho, the other in 1950 in the art journal Kokka. Choshunkaku, the name of the private museum established by Kawasaki Shozo, was compiled by Kawasaki's adopted son, Kawasaki Yoshitaro (1869-1920), who received the title of baron at the end of his life. The collection was sold after his death. In 1997 Yamamoto Hideo, the curator of paintings at the Kyoto National Museum, published images of ten of the twelve paintings, including the two shown here, which he knew only from the earlier published photographs cited above. The box inscriptions indicate that both paintings shown here were in the collection of the family of Baron Kawasaki, meaning Kawasaki Yoshitaro. Kawasaki Shozo (1837-1912), his father, was the founder of the Kawasaki Shipyard Company in Tokyo and Kobe in the late nineteenth century. In his 1997 essay Yamamoto listed the family of Baron Kawasaki as the provenance for one of the two paintings and Fujii Noriyoshi as the provenance for the other.
Among the bird and flower paintings with "Geiai" seals is a pair of screens in the Kyoto National Museum. There is also a group of ink paintings on paper with seals but no signatures that are so similar it is thought they were once pasted on folding screens. These paintings are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Burke Collection, and the Freer Gallery of Art.
The wide range of brush techniques used by Geiai is typical of Kyoto painters active in the late fifteenth century as is the elegance of his brushwork. There is speculation, based on his painterly style of ink painting using the "boneless" technique that he may be linked to "Geiami" (Shingei, 1431-1485), the father of the famous early sixteenth-century ink painter Soami (d. 1525), but there is no real evidence to support this hypothesis. Most Japanese scholarship favors an identification of Geiai with the equally enigmatic painter Oguri Soritsu (d. 1556).