Flowers & Birds of Spring and Autumn
Japan. Meiji period, circa 1900.
A pair of six-fold screens. Ink, color, gofun and gold leaf on paper.
Signed: Gaga Sha
Top Seal: Minamoto Shoji In
Bottom Seal: Meiryu
Each screen H. 68” x W. 148” (173cm x 376cm)
Price: USD 32,000
A pair of six-fold Japanese flower and bird screens from the late Meiji period. The cherry blossom tree on the right screen paired with sparrows represents spring, and on the left screen, the maple tree with its turning leaves and the flock of Japanese tits symbolizes autumn. Painted at the turn of the 20th century the artist was clearly caught up in the wave of modernization which stimulated young Japanese painters at the time. Rather than the modest coloring of the then dominant Maruyama/Shijo schools of painting the artist used saturated colors to create a vivid and dramatic effect. Similarly the daring composition has moved away from the typically lyrical qualities found in earlier compositions. Here, the artist depicts a scene of life at the top of the trees, a realm where humans are rarely able to enter. The ancient trees are contrasted strongly against the youthful exuberance of the birds and their song, color and excitement resonate across the screens. The fleeting beauty of the cherry blossoms and autumn foliage illustrates all too perfectly that nothing in this world is permanent, everything passes away at some point. A sad but beautiful admiration for this impermanence has been an important part of the Japanese mindset since ancient times. In Japanese, it’s called “mono no aware.” Another highlight of this expansive bird-and-flower painting is the artist’s ability to capture movement. Like a piece of animation, with each bird, we can imagine the series of moments before and after the painted scene.