1922 Japanese Screen Pair, Birds in Bamboo Forest by Yamamoto Shuntei



Shison Hanei zu

Yamamoto Shuntei (1887-1895)

Taisho period, 1922.

Pair of Six-panel Japanese Screens. Pigment, Gofun and Ink on Gold Leaf.

Dimensions: Each Screen;

H. 170 cm x W. 382 cm  (67’’ x 150’’)


A pair of six-panel Japanese screens auspiciously titled ‘Shison Hanei zu’, or ‘Prosperity of Descendants’. They were painted in the 11th year of the Taisho era, 1922. The screens are signed and sealed by the artist Yamamoto Shuntei. 

With rich mineral pigments on an expansive ground of gold leaf Shuntei depicts a flock of sparrows excitedly descending on a bamboo grove. The powerful new shoots of bamboo indicate the season of spring and allude to a prosperous future. They drive their way into lush green foliage and stretch into open fields. The intensity of color is achieved through the accumulation of thick wet strokes of malachite. Puddled white gofun higlighted with black ink captures the ceaseless movement and effervescence of the sparrows. The expansive composition is rhythmically balanced with open spaces leading to fullness and strong verticals anchoring the swaying leaves. 

From the age of 13 Yamamoto Shuntei (1887-1895) studied painting under his acclaimed uncle, Yamamoto Shunkyo (1871-1933). Shuntei inherited his uncle’s opulent landscape style and adopted the spatial expression of Western paintings. A highly successful artist, his work was first selected for the Imperial Bunten exhibition in 1914, and from then annually through to 1932. When his master Shunkyo died in 1933 Shuntei withdrew from the Imperial Exhibitions and temporarily stepped away from art. 

Regarding condition, at the top of the 1st and 2nd panels of the 2nd screen (Japanese screens are read from right to left) there is light and superficial moisture damage to the gold leaf. My restorers have applied new gold leaf over this area. Under normal viewing conditions it is not distracting and easily absorbed within the sweeping scene.