By Ike no Taiga
A pair of six-fold screens
Ink and color on paper covered with gold leaves
Edo period/18th century
Donated by Dan Inou
Tokyo National Museum
These famous works were painted by the literati artist Ike no Taiga (1723-1776) during his early to mid-forties. Influenced by literati painters Yanagisawa Kien (1704-1758) and Gion Nankai (1677-1751), Taiga taught himself Chinese Southern School painting. Together with Yosa Buson, he is considered one of Japan's greatest literati artists. He also achieved renown as a calligrapher.
Taiga's painting traces its origins to two Song-dynasty (960-1279) literary compositions, the Record of the Yueyang Pavilion by Fan Zhongyan (eleventh century) and Record of the Zuiweng Pavilion by Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072). The composition is based on two designs from an early Qing (c. 1644-1912) book entitled Album in Honor of Zhang Huanzhen's 80th Birthday, painted by Shao Zhenxian and others. The right screen centers on the view of the celebrated multi-storied Yueyang Pavilion looking out over Lake Dongting, which flows into the Yangzi River in the distance. The left screen depicts the single-storied Zuiweng Arbor at Mount Langye. In both pavilions literati are holding their beloved "elegant gatherings."
The screens are unified by the sweep of gold leaf spreading across both picture surfaces. Taiga used malachite green, azurite blue, vermilion, and other rich mineral pigments, giving rise to a unique manner of painting. These screens came from the collection of the Hitotsubashi branch of the Tokugawa family.