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Chrysanthemums and Autumnal Plants

Artist Culture
Edo period, 1615–1868
late 17th–early 18th century
Six-panel folding screen; ink, color, and gold leaf on paper
Made in
Japan, Asia
Furniture, paintings
Current Location
Not on view
overall: 66 1/2 × 136 in. (168.9 × 345.4 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of William K. Bixby
Public Domain
Object Number
This screen features chrysanthemums (kiku in Japanese) and autumnal plants (akikusa, literally “autumnal grasses”) against a gold background enlivened with golden clouds. The chrysanthemums are shown in three distinct colors: white, orange, and red. The petals of the white chrysanthemums were painted in a raised technique called moriage. The white-flowering variety of the bush clover (shirohagi; Lespedeza japonica) in the lower right corner, a favorite motif among Japanese poets since ancient times, is associated with melancholy and unrequited love. Blue Chinese bellflowers (kikyō; Platycodon grandiflorus) also animate the lower right while clumps of delicate Japanese silver grass (susuki; Miscanthus sinensis) emerge from behind the chrysanthemums at the back. Together, the bush clover, Chinese bellflower, and Japanese silver grass are three of the so-called “seven grasses of autumn” (aki no nanakusa) and reinforce the seasonal theme. At the lower left corner is a round I’nen seal impressed in red. Tawaraya Sōtatsu (1570–1643), one of the founders of the Rinpa school, first used this seal, and it continued to be used by successive artists in his workshop. This screen was the first Japanese painting to enter the Museum’s collection in 1920. The Museum is grateful to the Sumitomo Foundation in Tokyo, Japan, for providing a generous grant to fund the full-scale conservation and remounting of this screen at Nishio Conservation Studio in Washington, D.C.
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