Peacock and Peahen
Late Meiji period, circa 1900
Folding screen in two-panels. Ink, pigments and gold leaf on silk.
Sign: Seishi ga 清志 画
Upper – Konju 今樹O印
Lower – Seichiku Jushi 清竹樹志
H. 173 cm x W. 170 cm (68” x 67”)
Price: USD 18,000
A two-fold Japanese silk screen from the late Meiji period depicting a peacock with its brilliant plumage cascading toward the peahen. Against a setting composed of relatively few elements and dominated by the pine tree delineated in ink and washes, the birds are presented at sharp, intimately engaged angles. Their elongated necks stretch toward each other and their dramatically planted legs further emphasize the sense of movement and interplay. The artist has borrowed the pictorial vocabulary of birds and flowers from Maruyama Okyo (1733-1795), who developed a style which was a mixture of both Western naturalism and Eastern decorative design. Peacocks were popular for their vibrantly colored plumage and were customarily combined with peonies to convey auspicious meanings. The magnificent plumage of the birds offered artists an opportunity for virtuoso displays of technical skill in the delicate application of pigments. Peacocks also provided a dramatic motif for large scale works of art befitting the representation of beauty, wealth and nobility of spirit.