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Nishiyama Hōen, Various Birds, a handscroll painting

 

Height: 361.000 mm
Length: 4196.000 mm

Asia JA JP ADD142 (1939.10-14.02)

    Nishiyama Hōen, Various Birds, a handscroll painting

    Japan
    Late Edo period, mid-19th century AD

    To the right, geese descend against the backdrop of the waning moon. They set a tranquil, graceful tone for the beginning of the scroll, but in the next grouping the perils of nature are revealed, as a snake twists itself around a male pheasant, readying for the kill. Above them fly a group of small birds, with swallows at the rear. There are great tits and jays here too, but some of the birds seem to be imaginary rather than taken from life.

    The scroll continues with pigeons, wild ducks, chickens, and crows; all painted with a skilful sense of colour and movement. Each grouping is set off against seasonal plants, but the natural order of spring, summer, autumn, and winter is ignored.

    Nishiyama Hōen (1804-67) was an important pupil of the Kyoto Shijō-school painter Matsumura Keibun (1779-1843) who lived and worked in Osaka. His bird-and-flower and animal subjects seem to have been particularly popular with late nineteenth-century Western collectors and considerable numbers of his paintings are found in Western collections.

    The inscription reads 'Hamada-shi [no] motome [ni] ōjite sha, Hōen Ki' ('Painted by Hōen Ki at the request of Mr Hamada'). The seals read 'Hōen' and '?Yoshiteru'

    I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan-1, vol. 2 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1992)

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