Japanese - Chrysanthemums and Bamboo, 17th century

Japanese

Sliding Doors (fusamas): Chrysanthemums (recto) and Bamboo (versos), 17th century

Four sliding doors (fusama); color and gold on paper, 167 x 93.5 cm (65 3/4 x 36 13/16 in.)

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Object details

Accession number

P20e3.a-d

Provenance

Purchased by the painter Joseph Lindon Smith (1863–1950), at an auction by the Asian antiquities dealers Yamanaka & Co., Boston, 6-8 November 1902, lot 430. (as by Kano Yeitoku, comissioned by Hideyoshi for the Momoyama Palace, early 17th century).Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from Joseph Lindon Smith for $400 on 25 February 1911.

Bibliography

Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 171. (as early 18th century).Yasuko Horioka. "Japanese Screens-III." Fenway Court (Jun. 1969), pp. 57-61, nos. 2-3. (suggests late 17th century).Yasuko Horioka et al. Oriental and Islamic Art: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1975), pp. 72-74, no. 30, ill. (attributed to the Kano school, 17th century).Victoria Weston. East Meets West: Isabella Stewart Gardner and Okakura Kakuzo. Exploring Treasures in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum V. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1992), pp. 57-60, ill. (suggests the Rinpa school, second quarter of the 17th century).Alan Chong and Noriko Murai. Journeys East: Isabella Stewart Gardner and Asia. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2009), p. 418, fig. 21.


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Commentary

These sliding doors are painted on both sides and were originally set into two parallel tracks in a Japanese building. The side that Isabella Stewart Gardner chose to display is a scene of chrysanthemums growing on a bank beside a stream. Heavy clouds of mist in gold leaf provide the background for the white of the flowers and the dark green of the leaves. On the other side, slender bamboo in sparse and thick groups stretch along the foreground. There is a graceful rhythm to the thin stalks and the sharp, spritely leaves. Both chrysanthemums and bamboo are recurrent themes in Japanese screen painting. The chrysanthemums on this screen likely appealed to Isabella Stewart Gardner who grew the prize winning autumnal blooms in the greenhouses at Green Hill, her residence in Brookline, Massachusetts.