Important Cultural PropertyFlowers and Birds of the Four Season

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  • Pair of folding screens
  • Kyoto National Museum
  • A甲815

Most of the birds-and-flowers screens attributed to Sesshû are believed actually to have been painted by his students. This is the only pair of folding screens considered to be the work of the master himself. The composition of each screen is anchored by an enormous tree, a pine or a plum, and is surrounded by plants and flowers of the four seasons and by birds and waterfowls. The strange twists and bends in the trunks and the eccentric depiction of the birds permeate this work with a particular oppressiveness and tension that was likely influenced by Chinese Ming-dynasty models. These screens are alleged to have been commissioned by Masuda Kanetaka of Iwami Province (present-day western Shimane Prefecture) as a gift for his grandson Munekane upon inheriting the family leadership in 1483 (Bunmei 15), although this cannot be confirmed.