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Birds, Trees, and Flowers

Birds, Trees, and Flowers

late 1500s

Part of a set. See all set records

attributed to Kano Mitsunobu

(Japanese, 1565-1608)

Six-panel folding screen, ink, color, and gold on paper

Image: 155.9 x 339.4 cm (61 3/8 x 133 5/8 in.); Overall: 168.5 x 352.2 cm (66 5/16 x 138 11/16 in.); Closed: 172.5 x 61 x 11.3 cm (67 15/16 x 24 x 4 7/16 in.); Panel: 168.5 x 58.7 cm (66 5/16 x 23 1/8 in.); with frame: 171.7 x 355.4 cm (67 5/8 x 139 15/16 in.)

Gift of William G. Mather 1948.128.2


Unhurried contemplation of these screens (byobu) reveals that their appearance differs slightly. Notice the shapes of the rocks and pine trunks. The actual ink lines defining their contours and the many brushstrokes providing textual definition to forms and surfaces show two distinct hands at work in the later decades of 16th-century Kyoto.

Both Kano Shoei and Kano Mitsunobu were well known throughout the country for their skills. As masters of the Kano academic painting style, they naturally favored Chinese-inspired subject matter, such as birds and flowers, rendered in emphatic ink tonalities and placed within mountainous landscape settings. As can be seen in the byobu on the right, military class patrons frequently requested scenes depicting predation, such as hunting scenes that were inserted as additional subject matter in otherwise tranquil vistas celebrating flora and fauna.

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