• 1979.212-view-a
  • 1979.212-view-a.jpg
  • 1979.212_box_side-detail


Bird on a Snow-Covered Plum Branch

early 16th century


Hanging scroll; ink on paper

Image only, H. 20 3/8 x W. 14 1/4 in. (51.8 x 36.2 cm)

Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.212

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This painting by Saian illustrates one of the styles of ink painting popular in Japan in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. A singing bird perches on a snow-laden branch; the blossoms indicate the arrival of spring. A seal reading Saian is impressed in the lower right corner. Very little is known about the artist, who also painted scenes of hermitages nestled in Chinese-style landscapes, except that he was a Buddhist priest associated with the famous Shokokuji, part of the Five Mountain or gozan system of temples, in Kyoto. The powerful and expressive brushstrokes in this painting -- seen for example in the areas of wet (dark black) ink that are used to depict some of the bird's feathers and some buds on the plum tree -- are characteristics often found in Shokokuji-style monochrome paintings.


active late 15th-early 16th century

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