Japanese Art in the Asia Society Collection

Asia Society

(click for a larger view)

(click for a larger view)

Odawara Screens
Attributed to Odawara Kano School
The Four Seasons
Muromachi period, mid-to late 16th century
Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink and light color on paper

The influence of Kano school painting and its aesthetic and philosophical dependence on China is reflected in this work by the Odawara Kano school, the provincial branch patronized by feudal lords who controlled eastern Japan. Various scenes on these screens depict the popular theme in Chinese painting and literature known as the Eight Views of Hsiao and Hsiang, as well as certain Chinese tales about reclusive scholars engaged in the traditional "four arts" of music, chess, calligraphy and painting. Again, the political power of the military patron is validated through his "possession" of Chinese culture. Not only did the Kano school gain a near monopoly over the decoration of palaces, temples, and private residences, it also provided the only channel through which a young artist received his training.

Often designed as furniture, screen panels afford great flexibility in their placement. Landscape screens, such as this pair, are displayed with the central panels flattened out, which helps to clarify the narrative and the landscape setting.