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The Four Seasons
Attributed to Odawara Kano school
Japan; Muromachi period (1392-1573), mid- to late 16th century
Pair of six-panel folding screens; Ink and light color on paper
Each, H. 61 in. (154.9 cm); W. 142 1/8 in. (361 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
This pair of folding screens depicting a landscape of The Four Seasons illustrates the continuing influence of Kano Motonobu, the founder of the Kano School. This hereditary school of painters was employed by the Tokugawa shoguns and dominated Japanese painting from the 16th to the 19th century. Reading from right to left, various scenes show changes in foliage and atmosphere from spring to winter. In the opening scene, two figures walk along a mountain path, perhaps on their way to join others enjoying the spring day in a lakeside pavilion. Scenes of boating, fishing, and other outdoor activities illustrate summer. In the next section, a full autumn moon hovers above distant mountains. The snowy mountains and evergreens suggest the coldness and stillness of winter. Several of the vignettes scattered through the pair of screens have additional levels of meaning; in some instances they depict parts of the popular theme in painting and literature known as the Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers (shosho hakkei).
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