Early 20th Century Pair of Japanese Screens | Deer under Maple Trees


Deer under Maples

Late Taisho period, circa 1925-1930

Pair of two-panel screens. Ink and pigment on silk.

Signature: Goho

Seal: Goho


Each: H. 170 cm x W. 188 (67” x  74”)

Price: USD 24,500

A pair of two-fold Japanese silk screens from the later Taisho period depicting deer under maple trees. In this shimmering evocation of spring, the doe is pictured with her fawn, their bodies entwined. The new leaves of the maple trees are painted with mineral pigments in lush hues of green. The delicate and meticulous brushwork of the deer contrasts dramatically with the heavily outlined foliage and the broad application of saturated colors. At the top right of the scene a faded vermillion railing peeks through the leaves. This visual clue likely alludes to the parklands of Nara where deer freely wander. Shinto religion and local beliefs hold that a deity named Takemikazuchi arrived in the old capital of Nara on a deer to act as the city’s protector, and as a result, the deer of Nara are considered sacred, messengers of the gods.

In this pair of screens the artist is not overly concerned with creating the illusion of three-dimensional space, but rather seems to be interested in stylizing the shapes and forms of the depicted subjects. The work brings to mind the vividness and excess of the Rinpa school, and represents the liberalism of the Taisho period as it is being drawn toward the more geometrically organized, rigid compositions of the Showa period.

Both the signature and seal read Goho. There is a possibility that it is the work of an artist named Tanaka Goho from Wakayama prefecture who died in 1929. Unfortunately we do not have enough information to make a judgement.

The screens display perfectly and have been conserved and fully re-mounted in Kyoto utilizing traditional techniques and craftsmen.