Early 20th Century Japanese Silver Screen Pair, Flowers & Birds of the 4 Seasons



Flowers and birds of the 4 Seasons.

Early 20th century, circa 1920

Pair of six-panel Japanese folding screens.

Ink, gofun, pigment and silver leaf on paper.

Signed and sealed:



Each Screen W. 284 cm x H. 121 cm (112” x 48”)

Price: USD 21,000

A pair of mid-size, six-fold Japanese Nihonga screens from the early 20th century. Rather than a representation of birds and flowers the screen is a symbolic expression of the 4 seasons. Since ancient times Japanese have appreciated and cherished flowers and they adorn each season with a different atmosphere. In this screen for example the tender beauty and dazzling colors of spring are described by the Japanese mountain rose and magnolia; the lush and flourishing greenery of summer are defined by the peony, morning glories and hibiscus; the pure and serene feeling of autumn is illustrated by the bellflowers, pomegranate and amaranth and the cool and lofty purity of winter depicted by the snow covered camellia and bamboo.

Japanese Nihonga is based on painting styles that have evolved for over a thousand years. The materials used are also traditional elements developed during that long history. In this pair of screens the support is paper covered with squares of silver leaf, to which mineral and other natural pigments, sumi ink and white gofun were applied with animal glue as the adhesive. The flowers and birds have been painted in the borderless manner called mogu (boneless or buried bone). The artist has used vibrant colors while hiding the intentionally pale under drawing and thereby dispensing with the usually dominant element of a strong brush outline. This, along with the total absence of background, gives the viewer the impression that the various pictorial elements are floating against the silver ground. The magnolia and pomegranate trees have been painted with the tarashikomi technique of dropping color into puddled ink to create a complex blurring effect.

The screens are signed and sealed Tairaku. We have been unable to ascertain information on the artist’s identity.