- Museum number
Painting, two-panel screen, pair with JP Add 392. Eleven female cranes standing in dry reed bed. Ink and colour on paper.
- Production date
Height: 151.30 centimetres
Width: 170.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Smith et al 1990
The paintings are presently mounted as a pair of two-fold screens, but the surfaces are considerably worn and show evidence of having been well used as two pairs of sliding-door panels ('fusuma'). The repaired holes half-way up the sides of each screen would have contained metal door fittings. Though clearly influenced by the great Ogata Korin (1658-1716), the screens do not have the full bold stylisation associated with this master's work. Their softer, flatter style and gentle manner of execution suggest a possible attribution to the artist Tatebayashi Kagei, known by a small number of signed works dating from the generation after Korin, in the first half of the eighteenth century.
The basis of the Rinpa style was to reduce motifs taken from the natural world to their most quintessential shapes and forms and then to place them in strikingly asymmetric arrangements across a composition. On the left screen (illustrated) a flock of eleven female cranes stand in a dry reed bed, while on the right two males and a single female are grouped beside a stretch of open water, one male observing the flock of females with obvious interest. Though crane-like, the forms themselves are very simply painted: long white necks, circles with a dot for the eyes, and grey plumage differentiated by a technique of 'puddling' the still-wet ink, known as 'tarashikomi'. The various silhouettes are set off to full effect against the large unpainted areas of the screens.
Yamane, Yuzo (ed.), 'Rinpa kaiga zenshu, Vol. 4: Korin-ha 2', Tokyo, 1977.
Hizo Nihon bijutsu taikan Vol 1
The crane is beautiful arid has a certain dignity. East-Asian folk belief has it that the bird lives for a thousand years, so it has come to symbolize good luck and serves as an indispensable motif in the visual arts.
This pair of two-fold screens is done in the tradition of the Rinpa school's crane paintings. One screen shows just three cranes standing together, while eleven are clustered together in the other. Those in the former, the left-hand screen, are common cranes, but it is hard to be sure about the larger group of birds in the other. They are slightly different and the artist may have intended to represent hooded cranes.
The crane shown turning its head back toward the other birds is one particularly delightful element in the right-hand screen. Indeed, much of the charm of this pair of screens results from the artist's blending a delicate sense of visual design with a warm, humorous approach.
The vestiges of door-pulls on the extreme outer edge of each screen make clear that these screens were once used as sliding doors.
Especially striking is the composition - that is, the arrangement of several different varieties of cranes, including the Japanese species often referred to as the king of cranes.
Nakamura Hochu (active late eighteenth century to early nineteenth century) was one artist well known for his use of the 'tarashikomi', or dropped wet ink, technique seen here. Yet this work is generally believed to have been completed in the mid-Edo period, somewhat earlier than the period when Hochu lived.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.Add.391 (Japanese Painting Additional Number)