Flowers & Birds of the Four Seasons
Pair of six-fold Japanese Screens. Ink, color, gofun and gold on paper.
Second half of the 19th Century
Dimensions (each): H. 122 cm x W. 280 cm (48” x 110”)
Price: USD 26,000
A pair of mid-size Japanese screens from the second half of the 19th century. Through precise brushwork, meticulous compositional planning and stunning color the artist has detailed an intricate and highly animated natural scene. The expansive screens detail the movement of the seasons through an enormous array of highly interwoven floral motifs. The profusion of blooming flowers begins on the right screen with the overarching cherry blossom tree and draws the viewers attention leftwards. Summer is perhaps best defined by the peonies, autumn by the pampas grass and chrysanthemums and winter by the camellias. Interspersed among them are a myriad of seasonal flowers blooming spectacularly along the banks of the gently flowing stream. Among the flora depicted are lily, iris, poppy, azalea, wisteria, bush clover, bell flower, nandina, dwarf bamboo and white daffodil.
Though the artist remains unknown to us at present, the level of skill, materials and time involved in this particular work of art are quite extraordinary. Meticulous paintings such as this require enormous attention to detail and a deep understanding of numerous painting techniques. The artist contrasts the soft, loose brushwork of the tree-trunks, landforms and waterways with both outlined and boneless forms. Expressive ink-work recedes behind vivid pigments and gofun, some painted in relief to express their immediacy. This highly realistic and detailed approach to painting, with a focus on accurately depicting the natural world has it origins in the Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) academic painting. This had a significant influence of Japanese painting which began in the mid 18th century and emanated from the port of Nagasaki.