Circa 1930 Japanese Silver Screens by Isoi Joshin, Flowers of the Four Seasons.



Flowers of the four seasons

Isoi Joshin (1883-1964)

Pair of six-panel Japanese screens

Ink, pigment, lacquer and silver leaf on paper

Inscription: Isoi Jo

Seal: Shin


Each screen: : W. 379 cm x H. 175.5 cm (149” x 69”)

Price: USD 29,500

A distinctive Japanese artistic convention is to depict a single environment transitioning from spring to summer to autumn to winter in one painting. In this way, Japanese painters expressed not only their fondness for this natural cycle but also captured an awareness of the inevitability of change, a fundamental Buddhist concept. This pair of screens by Isoi Joshin celebrate not only the sensual appeal of elements of the natural world, but also imbue them with human emotions. Amongst a myriad of plants and flowers of varying degrees of recognizability are ferns, thistles, reeds and bush clover. Butterflies and dragonflies hover above them. The natural elements, being employed as decorative motifs, have been stylized to heighten the ornamental effect.

First and foremost a lacquer artist, Isoi Joshin has transferred these skills to the expansive silver-leaf canvas of this pair of six-fold screens. Along with traditional Japanese ink and pigments Joshin has also utilized lacquer in these paintings. This has led to some extraordinary colors which are unseen before in screen painting.

Born in Takamatsu, Isoi Joshin first studied lacquer arts at the Kagawa Prefectural Crafts School. After graduating in 1903 he moved to Osaka for a time to continue his studies. In 1904 he won a prize for a piece he exhibited at the St. Louis World Exposition. In 1909 he left the art dealer Yamanaka Company to return to Takamatsu where he founded his own studio. In 1916 he began teaching at the Kagawa Prefectural Crafts School. In 1919 and 1920 he exhibited at the Nitten. Again in 1929 he was accepted as an exhibitor at the 10th Teiten. Subsequently he exhibited annually at the Teiten, the Shin-Bunten and Hoshukuten national art exhibitions until the War. After the War he returned to the government sponsored exhibitions with the Nitten in 1946 at which he continued to exhibit until 1956. That year Joshin was designated an important intangible cultural property (commonly known as a Living National Treasure) for his skill at kimma or fine line decoration. His work is famous for the techniques of carved lacquer and kimma.