Pheasant and Pine

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Kano Koi
Japanese, c. 1569-1636

Pheasant and Pine, c.1626

Six-panel screen; ink, color, gold and silver on paper
170.2 x 380 cm
Saint Louis Art Museum,Funds given by Mary and Oliver Langenberg, Mr. and Mrs. Richard A. Liddy, and Susan and David Mesker (105.2002), Obj: 191659




The gnarled pine tree carpeted with snow, juxtaposed with tiny pink plum blossoms, points toward the very late winter season and the imminent arrival of spring. A male copper pheasant sits quietly on the tree trunk, its tail repeating the diagonal of the fence rendered in low-relief gold (moriage).

Although unsigned, this screen has been attributed to Kano Koi based on close comparison with his signed works. Koi was not a blood relation of the Kano family and therefore did not rise high in the ranks of the school. But he profoundly influenced the next generation of artists as the teacher of future official painters-in-residence (goyo eshi) to the shogun.

Likely the left screen of a pair—the unknown half of which would have depicted the spring season—this work was most likely done around 1626 when Koi was involved in painting the decorative program for the shogun’s Ninomaru Palace at Nijo Castle in preparation for the visit of the emperor Gomizunoo.

Rotation 2: August 15-September 27, 2009