20th Century Japanese Bird & Flower Screen by Yoshida Choshu (1897-1945)



Spring Evening

Yoshida Choshu (1897-1945)

Japan, Showa period. Circa 1935

Two-panel Japanese screen, ink, color, gold and gofun on paper.

Signed: Choshu

Seal: Unread

Dimensions: H. 74” x W. 73” (188cm x 186cm)


A two-panel Japanese bird and flower screen from the early Showa period by the Nihonga artist Yoshida Choshu. Given its oversized dimensions it is likely that the work was painted specifically for exhibition. 

With a scene of sparrows settling on a blossoming shrub, the artist conveys the brilliance of a late spring afternoon. He captures the beauty of the light as the sun sets and casts a glow over the lower half of the screen. Here the background is a warmer, richer shade which strengthens and highlights the color contrasts. He has used a wonderfully harmonized pallet of colors; crisp whites, russet browns and reds, gold highlights and the full gamut of spring greens. A light chartreuse background covers the entire paper canvas, and all the elements have been painted in raised pigments providing a slightly three-dimensional and lifelike texture throughout. 

Rendered in substantial detail, it is a largely realistic modeling of the sparrows and their surrounds, though the artist is also showing interest in stylizing the shapes and forms of the objects and subjects. The repeated patterns of the white blossoms, the consistently modeled leaves, and the saturated and broadly applied colors signal the artist’s interest in modern aesthetics. Beyond the works of art from the Taisho period, which were characterized by a natural world depicted with a blend of reality and decorativeness which created an almost dreamlike impression, the Showa period increasingly saw works of strong linearity, geometrical organization and the application of flat, saturated colors. This screen is representative of nihonga bird and flower painting in the transitional time between the liberal Taisho period and the more austere Showa era. 

Yoshida Choshu (1897-1945). Born in Gunma prefecture. Move to Tokyo and became a student of Gokura Senjin. Was an assistant professor at the Tama Art University in Tokyo. He was a member of the Nihon Bijutsuin until his resignation in 1937 (the Nihon Bijutsuin oversees the organization of the Inten exhibitions). At this time he founded the Shinkou-ten with 11 other artists. This organization continues to exhibit annually at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.