Meiji period Japanese Silver Screen Pair. Herons & Plovers, Shijo School.



Heron & Plovers

Ink and silver leaf on paper

Maekawa Bunrei (1837-1917)


Each Screen is H. 35’’ x W. 98’’ (88 cm x 248 cm)

Price: USD 22,500

A pair of low six-panel Japanese screens by Maekawa Bunrei, a later master of the Kyoto based Shijo school of painting. On the right screen a solitary white heron stands motionless in a stream. On the left screen plovers play along a shoreline. The elegant forms are executed employing fluid, minimalistic ink brushstrokes. The soft brushstrokes and the sharp light of the silver leaf lend the scenes a sense of translucence. The sophisticated composition superbly exploits the long, horizontal pictorial surface of the pair of folding screens. The origins of Shijo school painting are closely linked with Haiku poetry. Like Haiku, Shijo attempts to capture an immediate, subjective reaction to a stimulus from the world of nature. Naturalism is eschewed for the psychological impression taken from it. As in Haiku, simplification, the reduction of a scene to its most basic signifying elements, is at the core of Shijo work.

With their simplified design, masterful use of negative space and clarity of expression, this pair of screens represents the height of the Shijo school.

Maekawa Bunrei (1837-1917) was a Kyoto based Shijo school artist. He studied painting under his father Maekawa Gorei (1806-1876), who in turn was a pupil of Matsumura Keibun (1779-1843). He was particularly known for his paintings of birds and flowers. He played an active role of the Kyoto painting scene of the Meiji era. He was a member of the Kyoto Art Association (Jounsha). He worked at the Kyoto Prefectural Painting School at its inception and was a judge at the Kyoto Japan Youth Painting Association. He was also a frequent exhibitor at Japan’s National Industrial Exhibitions.