KANO EINO (1631-1697)
KANO EINO (1631-1697)
KANO EINO (1631-1697)
KANO EINO (1631-1697)
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KANO EINO (1631-1697)


KANO EINO (1631-1697)
Birds and Flowers of Four Seasons
Each signed Kano Eino hitsu, sealed Kyo-o and Eino
Pair of six-panel screens; ink, color, gold, gold wash and gold leaf on paper
61 x 145 in. (155 x 368 cm.) each
Klaus F. Naumann, Tokyo, 29 July 1982
Kobayashi Tadashi and Murashige Yasushi, eds., Kachoga no sekai, 5; Shosha na soshokubi - Edo shoki no kacho /Flower and Bird paintings of Japan, vol. 5; Elegant Decorative Beauty – Early Edo Period (Tokyo: Gakken Co. Ltd., 1981), pl. 30

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Takaaki Murakami(村上高明)
Takaaki Murakami(村上高明) Vice President, Specialist and Head of Department | Korean Art

Lot Essay

In a richly decorative statement about power and beauty, pine and plum trees face one another in an auspicious and highly detailed grouping of East Asian birds and flowers. These late-seventeenth-century screens, emerging for the first time after forty years in a private collection in New York, are a rare example of the best work of an important seventeenth-century master. A closely related work by Kano Eino, featuring cranes rather than paired pheasants, is in the collection of the Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo.
Kano Eino succeeded his father, Kano Sansetsu (ca. 1589–1651), as the third head of the local, Kyoto-based branch of the preeminent Kano family workshop. The other branch of the family had relocated to Edo (Tokyo) to work for the Tokugawa shoguns. The most important family of professional painters in Japanese history, stretching from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, the House of Kano served as official painters to the imperial and military elite for over four centuries. In addition to excelling in the family style, Eino is widely known as the author of History of Painting in This Realm (Honcho gashi), the first full-fledged history of painting written in Japan. His scholarly text, with biographies of over four hundred artists from as far back as ancient Japan, is based on a work by his father, and is still a fundamental research tool for Japanese art historians. A shortened version appeared in 1691 in five woodblock-printed volumes entitled Record of Ancient Painting (Honcho gaden), and the full work was published in 1693.
Judging by the fine-quality pigments, brilliant color and attention to precise detail, we can guess that these screens were commissioned by a member of the Kyoto aristocracy or a high-ranking member of another elite status group. The composition retains the grandiosity and formal qualities established by artists in the Momoyama period. Bold trees anchor the outer corners and stretch across a central pond or body of water, fed by a waterfall at far left. Clouds and mist bands of gold leaf add to the sense of luxury—no expense spared. Dark outlines used for the trees and rocks contrast with the delicate depictions of birds and flowers.
The artist presents a veritable encyclopedia of local birds and flowers. On the right screen we have: a pair of Siberian rubythroats on the pine at far right; a China rose in the lower right corner; a pink-petalled midget crabapple tree hiding behind the pine; a spectacular golden pheasant amidst pink peonies; a small Eurasian bullfinch at the apex of the pine branch; a pair of yellow-throated buntings in flight at left; and yellow Japanese roses at left. On the left screen we see, from the right: Japanese sparrows; a spectacled teal and a common gadwall duck; rhododendron on the shore; a pair of blue and white Japanese flycatchers on the plum branch; a ring-necked pheasant; a Daurian redstart on the plum branch in the fifth panel from the right; and finally, more rhododendron, as well as Camellia japonica.

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