- Museum number
Painting, six-panel screens, pair with JP Add 20. Bamboo in snow. Ink, colours, gold and silver on paper.
- Production date
Height: 154 centimetres
Width: 360.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Against a background of gold wash sprinkled with cut silver leaf (now tarnished black), clumps of bamboo heavy with snow arch in a rhythmical arrangement of elegantly repeating curves. Through the stems can be made out the snow-covered thatched rooves of a village below (right screen), creating a lyrical atmosphere of deep calm and quiet in the dead of winter. The subject may originally have been suggested by courtly classical poems that share these same motifs, but it is unusual to have such prominence given entirely to a forest of bamboo. The highly stylised, decorative qualities of the execution suggest a seventeenth century date, early in the Edo Period. (Label copy, TTC 1996)
Smith et al 1990
These striking paintings would have once been even more brilliant when the mists of silver dust and leaf scattered over the background retained their original colour, suggesting a sunny and frosty morning. In spite of the extreme boldness and sweep of the composition, a feature normally associated with the screen painting of the Kano, Hasegawa and Kaiho schools in the Momoyama period, it is closer in its poetic reticence, suggestiveness and economy of means to the work of the Tosa school (cf. 1920, 0514, 16). As normal in a non-narrative pair of screens, one is female (left) and one male (right), and the composition continues across the two. The bamboo is painted in black ink and green pigment with considerable finesse of brushwork, while the snow is laid on in thick patterns of shell-white (gofun) over built-up relief shapes in the 'moriage' technique.
Yamane, Yuzo (ed.), 'Nihon byobu-e shusei, vol. 7 Kachoga - shiki soka', Tokyo, 1980
Hizo Nihon bijutsu taikan Vol 1
These screens present a grove of bamboo enveloped in snow against a background of earth expressed by rubbing gold paint directly into the paper and then sprinkling the background with gold dust.
Bamboo has always flourished throughout the Japanese islands. In painting it has been used through the ages to ornament landscapes. Because bamboo remains green year round and grows so insistently and directly toward the sky, it has long been associated with qualities such as strength of purpose, fidelity, and purity. Bamboo is, like the pine and the plum, an essential motif used in winter scenes. All three are further associated with good fortune. It is not surprising, then, that since the Heian period bamboo has appeared in so much painting and poetry.
However, works like this one, which take bamboo as the central motif and depict it on a large scale, were not seen until the Muromachi period and the emergence of the traditions of paintings of flowers-and-birds and of flowering trees.
One tradition in 'Yamato-e' paintings - works on Japanese themes in a Japanese manner - that arose during the Muromachi period depicted the theme of "bamboo of the four seasons." This pair of screens draws on that tradition. Yet the presence of the thatched-roof cottage and the perspective on the bamboo groves suggest that this work lies outside the restricted tradition of flowering plant paintings.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.Add.19 (Japanese Painting Additional Number)