Flowers of Spring and Autumn | Japanese Rimpa screen pair | Takahashi Shuka (1877-1953)



Flowers of Spring and Autumn

Takahashi Shuka  (1877-1953)  高橋 秋華

Pair of six-fold screens. Ink, mineral pigments, gold and gofun on silk over gold leaf.

Painting inscription:  Shuka hitsu   秋華 筆

Painting seals:

Upper: Takahashi Toshi in   高橋 敏 印

Lower:  Shuka   秋華

Early 20th century. Circa 1910/1920

Dimensions (each):

285 cm x 40 cm (112” x 16”)


In this vivid evocation of spring and autumn, the artist successfully exploits the dimensions of the screens’ 12 horizontal panels. This unusual work rejects the well established cannon of screen painting with prominent left and right anchors and treats the space on the two screens as a unified space. The artist incorporates diagonals and verticals to create geometric designs of great drama. The screens’ flat, graphic quality and patterned motifs owe a debt to the decorative Rimpa style. The pooling together of ink and malachite green pigment in the tarashikomi technique is similarly inspired by the Rimpa style. The flowers are characterised by the brilliant colours of their thickly applied mineral pigments; the veins of the leaves delineated in lines of gold. Representative of the affluence of the early 20th century, the scene is painted on a silk background enhanced with gold leaf applied to the entire reverse side in the urahaku technique. The striking frontal composition features pinks, lilies, hydrangeas, amaranth, morning glories and bellflowers. Rather than following a prescribed narrative the flowers are drawn from both classical literature and varieties that were actively cultivated at the time.

Takahashi Shuka (1877-1953) was born in Okayama and originally studied nanga painting under Ishii Kinryo. He later moved to Kyoto, studying under Tsuji Kako and later joined Yamamoto Shunkyo’s Sanaekai studio. His received prizes for his paintings at the Naikoku Kangyo Hakurankai and the Nichi Ro Sen Shuhakukai. He exhibited at the 5th, 6th, 9th and 12th Inten. In 1922 he exhibited in France at the Nichi Futsu Koukan Bijutsuten in Paris where his painting of peonies was purchased by the French government. In 1930 he was commissioned to paint a wall of the Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo. At 55 years of age he moved to Takarazuka before moving back to Okayama 7 years before he died.