Wheat, Poppies, and Bamboo, early 17th century

Kano Shigenobu, Japanese

This brilliant screen depicts young wheat, blossoming poppies, and bamboo, all of the summer season. Boldly patterned with bright mineral colors on a gold ground, it exemplifies the exuberant decorative style of the Kano school. A heightened sense of realism is achieved with the use of the moriage technique, whereby parts of the composition are built up by the application of gesso to create raised designs on the painting surface.

The emerging elite of Japanese society in the seventeenth century were the daimyo (feudal lords), who controlled extensive domains and served as advisors to the shogun (military overlords). The magnificent castles of the daimyo were embellished with colorful paintings on screens and sliding doors, often decorated with gold-leaf backgrounds, which served to brighten the huge, dark interiors. Among the retainers in the service of the daimyo lords were the painters of the Kano school, a family of secular artists who formed the most important school of decorative painting from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. The Kano painters employed colorful and decorative elements in their work, developing a bold style well suited to these grand commissions. In particular, the Kano school painters of Kyoto popularized the kimpeki style of gold-ground screens painted in opaque mineral pigments.



(Mayuyama & Co., Ltd., Tokyo);

purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1969.