Early 19th Century Japanese Screen. Cherry Blossom & Pheasants by Mori Tetsuzan



Mori Tetsuzan (1775-1841)

Pheasants and Cherry Blossoms

Late Edo period.

Two-fold Japanese screen. Ink, color, gofun, gold and silver on paper.


H. 176 cm x W. 190 cm (69” x 75”)

Price: USD 29,500

A two-fold Japanese bird and flower screen by the 19th century artist Mori Tetsuzan. The pheasants are rendered in a highly realistic style, owing to Tetsuzan’s careful observation of birds in nature. The delicate cherry blossoms and red leaves are also highly naturalistic, as is the twisting of the tree’s trunk and branches. These are gracefully contrasted with the simplified suggestions of the surrounding landscape, sparingly indicated and obscured by clouds of gold. Tetsuzan presents a warm world that captures the idyllic scenery in early spring. The scene encapsulates the popular Kyoto-based Maruyama-Shijo School style of painting in its fine balance of beautiful, deceptively simple design and detailed surface description. 

Like his teacher, Maruyama Okyo, Tetsuzan largely eschewed painting phoenixes, dragons and other mythological creatures, as his interest lay in the world around him. He tried to capture the charm of everyday scenes. Depicted here are a pair of Green Pheasants, the national bird of Japan. They inhabit the farmlands and marshes of most of Japan, and many live near villages and towns: they are a very familiar bird, particularly in pre-industrial Japan. Despite this they are not widely represented in Japanese painting, Chinese Golden and Silver Pheasants being far more common. 

Mori Tetsuzan (1775-1841) was the son of Mori Shuho (brother of Mori Sosen), and succeeded the family from Sosen. Together they formed a painting school known as the Mori school that was active in the Osaka area. Tetsuzan originally studied under Sosen, but later became a disciple of Maruyama Okyo. He is known as one of the ten disciples of Okyo. Tetsuzan passed his techniques on to Mori Kansai and Mori Ippo.