- Museum number
Painting, two-fold screen for tea ceremony (furosaki byobu). Cracked ice: patch of ice just beginning to form; lines of ink along white surface. Ink on paper with sprinkled mica. Signed and sealed.
- Production date
Height: 63.30 centimetres (mount)
Height: 60.50 centimetres
Width: 185 centimetres (mount)
Width: 182.10 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Smith et al 1990
As a young man, Okyo was employed by a Kyoto toy merchant, Nakajima Kambei, to design prints and paintings incorporating Western-style 'vanishing-point' perspective, for use with novelty viewing machines that contained a mirror and a lens to accentuate the three-dimensionality of the images. Okyo applied the lessons of these early experiments to his mature works which, for the first time in the history of Japanese art, have a structure based on integrated spatial recession.
This low two-fold screen ('furosaki-byobu') would have been placed behind the various utensils used in the Tea Ceremony when these were laid out on the 'tatami' mat of the tea-room, and the minimalist composition consisting of nothing more than cracks in the ice covering a pond is typical of the austere taste associated with the world of tea during the Edo period. Even in such a seemingly simple work, however, Okyo has taken pains to arrange the cracks so that they suggest the absolutely flat surface of the ice receding far into the distance. Each brush stroke is executed with sharp, unwavering precision. Though the subject suggests the dead of winter, the intention may have been to provide a touch of cooling decor at a stifling summer Tea Ceremony.
Saint Louis Art Museum, 'Okyo and the Maruyama-Shijo School of Japanese Painting', Saint Louis, 1980.
Hizo Nihon bijutsu taikan Vol 1
This work was likely used as a 'furosaki', or small, low screen placed near the hearth in a room devoted to the tea ceremony.
Simply by running lines of ink along the white surface of this two-fold paper screen, Okyo gives complete, satisfying form to the common sight of a patch of ice just beginning to form. The work takes the viewer by surprise with the elegant simplicity of its freehand strokes and the ingeniousness of its conception. In his presentation of this small section of a frozen pond Okyo not only uses a minimum of elements to vividly evoke a specific season, he also makes it look easy.
Okyo is said to have carried a drawing pad with him at all times and to have been in the habit of pausing frequently to make quick sketches. From his youth he was very familiar with and strongly influenced by the newly imported European styles of painting and prints, including 'megane-e', pictures used in optical devices known as stereoscopes. Under the patronage of Yujoho Shinno of the Enman-in Temple, he also became caught up in Positivist thought and the related study of medicinal herbs. Okyo generally worked by starting from realistic studies, then refining and beautifying them for decorative effect, while striving to keep a sense of "realism."
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
Osaka, Municipal Museum of Art; Maruyama Okyo; 13 Sept-26 Oct 2003
Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art; Maruyama Okyo; 3 Nov 2003-14 Dec 2004
Edo-Tokyo Museum; Maruyama Okyo; 3 Feb-21 Mar 2004
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.Add.723 (Japanese Painting Additional Number)