Height: 930.000 mm
Width: 350.000 mm
William Anderson Collection
Asia JA JP 159-160 (1881.12-10.0223-4)
Sumiyoshi Keishū, Birds and Flowers in Four Seasons, a pair of hanging scroll paintings
Edo period, probably AD 1777-81
This pair of hanging scrolls features the common theme of kachōga (bird-and-flower painting). In the right-hand scroll a willow tree with swallows in its branches indicates spring. Two birds of paradise perch lower down. At the base of the tree are peonies and green grass to suggest summer. A kingfisher is perched on a rock by the fast-flowing mountain stream, and sparrows fly above.
In the left-hand scroll, the maple tree stands for autumn. A horned owl sits on the tree-trunk, surrounded by small birds which seem to be teasing it: a compositional element seen in earlier kachōga. The pink blossoms beneath are cotton flowers. In the distance can be seen the snow-covered mountains and pine-trees of winter.
The original name of Sumiyoshi Keishū (1729-97) was Itaya Hiromasa, and he was a pupil of Sumiyoshi Hiromori (1705-77), a painter to the shōgun. When Hiromori became old and frail, he arranged to pass his duties on to his trusted pupil Hiromasa, and agreed to adopt the latter's son Hiroyuki and make him his heir. As the son was still young, however, Hiromasa for a time became head of the Sumiyoshi school, and used the signature seen here, ‘Sumiyoshi Keishū ga'. The seal reads ‘Yamato-e ichiryū' ('Prime lineage of native painting').
I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hizō Nihon bijutsu taikan-2, vol. 3 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1993)