William Wordsworth and Matsuo Bashuo appear together in a new portrait


The painting of Wordsworth with the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho is the work of Hideyuki Sobue, who now lives in Cumbria, and was commissioned by the Kakimori Bunko Museum in Japan. It will be on show there from September 2016 as part of an exhibition, Walking Poets, which assembles some of the original manuscripts of the poets, Wordsworth in England and Basho in Japan, alongside artworks created by over 20 contemporary artists from the UK and Japan.

It was unveiled for just one night before travelling to Japan, at Wordsworth's former home at Rydal Mount near Ambleside during a reception and poetry recital by Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the poet's great great great great grandson. Sobue also read from Basho's work.

Wordsworth is the best-known English Romantic poet in Japan, but the Japanese have never before had an opportunity to see his original manuscripts, which are being released for the first time by the Wordsworth Trust.

Kakimori Bunko museum owns the most important of Basho's original manuscripts. The exhibition there will be open to the public from September 17 until November 3, with workshops, symposia and music and poetry recitals. For Walking Poets, Sobue has created a polyptych work using four aluminium plates, representing a Japanese traditional fusuma-e (sliding door painting). He has portrayed Wordsworth and Basho facing each other across time and space, culture and language and highlighted the two poets' humble and naturalistic lifestyles, which were reflected in their poetry.

As a way of visually linking the two poets he has depicted a maple tree. The Maple appears in poems composed by Basho and it was a tree loved by Wordsworth too; he planted Japanese Maple trees in his garden at Rydal Mount.

After the reception, Colin Fox, Chairman of the Lake District Japan Forum, said: 'It was a pleasure to be at the first viewing of Hideyuki's artwork of Wordsworth and Basho depicted together - the two most famous poets from their respective countries with many similarities although from different centuries. To hear a selection of their work read so beautifully was a privilege and certainly added to a special evening.'

Thursday 1st of September 2016

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