Pines and Cranes
Anonymous. Kyoto Kano School.
Late 17th/early 18th centuries, circa 1700.
Pair of six-panel Japanese folding screens.
Ink, gofun, pigment and gold leaf on paper.
Each W. 375 cm x H. 177 cm (147.5” x 69.5”)
Price: USD 68,000
This bold composition presents two pine trees extending to the left and right across a gold leaf background. One tree is silhouetted against a green ground, golden clouds obscuring its true size, the other stretches across a stylized waterway. The pines are paired with Manchurian cranes with red crests and snow white plumage. Both have been highly auspicious motifs in East Asia since Chinese antiquity. Here the artist utilized fluid and instinctive ink brushstrokes to define the trunk, branches and tail feathers, in strong contrast to the precision and sharp angularity of the crane’s legs and beaks. The adoption of this vast metallic painting support required an unerring sense of design and composition, so that the negative space surrounding motifs could imply context for the otherwise floating pictorial elements. The brushwork detailing the trunks of the pines, the exaggerated dimensions of the pine trees and the strength and dynamism of the composition are all reminiscent of Kano Eitoku, grandson of Kano Motonobu.
It is a late 17th or early 18th century work by an artist associated with the Kyoto Kano school. The Kano school that decided to remain in Kyoto after the establishment of the Tokugawa government in Edo continued with a richly decorative painting style developed in the Momoyama period. These Kyoto Kano painters admired Eitoku, while the Edo Kano painters, foremost among them Tanyu, created a more restrained style resulting in strong distinguishing characteristics. The works of the Kyoto Kano artists were notable for their flamboyance and grandeur. They painted large scale works for decorating castles, temples and wealthy residences.