The Art of Japanese Screens and Furnishings

Ref. 5507/8

A pair of six-fold paper screens painted in ink and colour on a gold ground with kiku (chrysanthemum) and take (bamboo) amongst stylised clouds and mist.

Japan Edo period 17th century

Dimensions: h. 169.5 cm x w. 374 cm
Exhibited: Itabashi Museum of Art Tokyo

These screens were shown in the second half of a two part exhibition Chotto Koikina Edo Byobu (Sophisticated Screen Paintings of the Edo Period) Edo Bunka Series 18 (Edo Culture Series 18) held at the Itabashi Museum of Art in the autumn of 2002.

The following description is a translation of the original text:

In the foreground, a scattered sprinkle of sunago (gold dust) creates an image of soft misty clouds, in between them one can glimpse beautiful white chrysanthemums. On the right-hand screen white chrysanthemums are depicted drifting from top right to lower left in a gentle sweeping manner. The left-hand screen depicts three bamboo stems growing in a powerful upright vertical movement, thereby creating an interesting contrast of "soft" and "upright" on the right and left-hand screens. This is a very skilfully composed work with a sense of sophistication. The majority of the background is painted in gold, here and there one can see some sky peeping through the scattered, rather sharply pointed drifts of mist and clouds. Although there is no depiction of the moon itself, one can well imagine that this is an image of a sharp and crisp autumnal evening sky, with white chrysanthemums rendered in such a hauntingly beautiful manner that they shine out, suggesting that the flowers are perhaps illuminated by the moonlight. The quality of pigment used is supreme, with the white of the flowers, the green of the bamboo and the gold harmoniously matched in the palette of colours. All in all, an image of splendour with elegant sophistication is created.

No signature or seal (rakkan) can be found on the screens, but the quality intrinsically tells us that it is by a notable painter of the Kano School. One can safely say that the work predates the 18th century (before 1699).

Mr Yamamoto

Curator, Itabashi Museum