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Flowers and Grasses of the Four Seasons
Attributed to Sotatsu school
Japan; Edo period (1615-1867), about 1620 - 1650
Pair of six-panel folding screens; Color and ink on gold leaf on paper
Each, H. 63 in. (160 cm); W. 143 in. (363.2 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Acquisitions Fund
This striking pair of screens exemplifies the style of painting most closely associated with the Sotatsu school of painting, named for the painter and calligrapher Tawaraya Sotatsu (active 1600 - 1640). The screens illustrate the changes from spring to winter with representations of the flowers, grasses, plants, and vegetables that bloom in each of the seasons. The vegetation is painted in the "boneless" or outlineless technique. In this method, shapes are created using color rather than filling in outlined forms. In some cases, the boneless forms have been painted with thin, translucent pigments that allow the gold background to shine through. In others, thick layers of gessolike material (gofun) have been piled up to give the petals of the flowers a dimensionality. The entire composition of this pair of screens is painted from a bird's-eye perspective, an approach intended to create a sense of intimacy between the viewer and the screens.
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