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Cranes, Pines, and Bamboo | by peterjr1961
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Cranes, Pines, and Bamboo

Cranes, Pines, and Bamboo by Ogata Kôrin (Japanese, 1658–1716)

Japan; Edo period (1615–1868); late 17th century


Such propitious symbols of longevity as cranes, pines, and bamboo beneath a crescent moon evoke the auspicious realm of the immortals. The sun, another fortuitous symbol, was probably originally depicted on a now-missing panel of the four-panel screen. The pair subtly suggests spring and autumn through such floral motifs as azaleas, chrysanthemums, morning glories, and eulalias.


The screens' most striking feature is the disposition of the stream. Running toward the viewer, the stream both separates and unites the two segments of land. Such a bold composition is an early demonstration of Kôrin's genius for pictorial design, which culminated in his masterwork, Red and White Plums.


Certain unfinished areas suggest the preparatory nature of this work: the smudged-in upper portion of the tree trunk, the faint green of the branches in the right screen, and the notation "very pale green" written on the lower part of the left screen. Thought to have been part of the collection of sketches and drawings formerly owned by the Konishi family, descendants of Ogata Kôrin, this work was later remounted as a pair of folding screens.

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Taken on June 6, 2010