2014: Pair of six-leaf screens, Kishi Renzan (1805-1859). MC 2013-2

  • Eagle on a snowy pine
  • by Kishi Renzan (1805-1859)
  • to 1850
  • Kyoto, Japan
  • pair of six-leaf screens
  • ink and light colors on paper
  • 171 cm L. 370 cm each
  • Sign Renzan Gantoku seal Kishi Bunshin (top), Shido (bottom)

This work, acquired by the Society of Friends of the Museum Cernuschi for the museum, is part of the acquisition policy led by the museum of works showing the evolution of Asian and especially Japanese painting. It fills gaps in the field of painting from the Edo period and is an important step in the transformation and transition from "traditional" painting to painting Nihonga.

The composition here covers two screens, but the main subject is concentrated on the screen of the left, in an effect of imbalance and asymmetry properly Japanese. An eagle, a military symbol of bravery, is perched on a snow-covered pine tree and seems ready to melt on its prey. To this powerful composition is opposed the relative calm of the screen of right occupied by one of the branches of the pine, rendered with the aid of the technique of the katabokashi ("Shape created by ink fading"). The perspective used is not that of traditional Japanese painting, but comes from the Western perspective. From this point of view, she can get close to Maruyama Ôkyo's famous painting entitled "Pins sous la neige". The realism with which the eagle is depicted shows a true study of nature, characteristic of the realistic currents of the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century. These screens show how much Renzan is indebted to Maruyama-Shijô School. The pair of screens acquired by the Cernuschi Museum is close to another composition depicting "Monkeys on Pines" (Lee Institute for Japanese Art, Clark Center, California), dated from 1853, but of which there is only one two screens.

Kishi Renzan belongs to a "westernizing" pictorial movement, born in Kyoto in the 18th century under the influence of the first European paintings and engravings introduced in Japan from the 1725 years. In the second half of the eighteenth century, the painter Maruyama Ōkyo (1733-1795) encourages painting from nature and on the pattern. Trained at the Western perspective through the use of the oscura camera and from optical views imported from the West, Ōkyo integrates linear volume and perspective research into his work in ink. This realistic school, called Maruyama-Shijô School, is at the origin of the birth of several other realistic schools, including the Kishi School, founded by Kishi Ganku (1749-1838) and to which belongs the artist presented here. This school was the main rival of the Maruyama-Shijô school in Kyoto. Renzan was Ganku's first student and son-in-law (he was also adopted by Ganku). He specialized in painting flowers and birds. Author of paintings for the imperial palace of Kyoto, he decorated the sliding doors of the room called "Hall of the Wild Geese" because of their theme. When Ganku died, he became the co-leader of Kishi School, along with his brother-in-law Kishi Gantai (1782-1865).

This renowned artist is represented in famous institutions such as the Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art, the Kyoto City Museum of Modern Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Freer Gallery of Washington and the Fogg. Harvard Art Museum. A painting bearing the same signature and seals similar to those of these screens is published in the catalog of the exhibition "The Kishi School and its members" (Kishiha to sono keifu, 1996, Ritto Rekishi Minzoku Hakubutsukan, Shiga Prefecture).

The Cernuschi Museum is happy to be able to now house a masterful work of this artist.


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