Two unobtrusive elements in the byøbu here pro-vide telling insights into the evolution of the Four Accomplishments theme in the sixteenth century. First is the greater importance placed on the depiction of a land-scape setting. Second, these lofty exemplars of classical China are portrayed in groupings that convey a distinc-tive relaxed ambience when compared to earlier Chinese or Japanese presentations. To understand this important leitmotif emerging in conventional ink painting circles at mid-century, one need only gaze upon the young page slouched beside the stream watching fish swimming nearby. Confucian ideals as well as notions of Zen recti-tude have been superseded in these byøbu by a series of beguiling vignettes showing human engage-ment and companionship in an open and receptive natural setting.

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The Four Accomplishments, late 1500s

pair of six-fold screens, ink and light color on paper, Image: 153.00 x 358.60 cm (60 3/16 x 141 1/8 inches); Overall: 174.00 x 378.50 cm (68 1/2 x 149 inches); Closed: w. 64.80 cm (25 1/2 inches). John L. Severance Fund 1979.46.2

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