Kano Motonobu (Japanese, 14761559)
Pair of six–panel screens; ink and color on paper; 67 x 150 in. (170.2 x 381 cm); folded: 67 x 25 3/4 x 5 in. (170.2 x 65.4 x 12.7 cm)
Dr. and Mrs. Roger G. Gerry Collection, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Roger G. Gerry, 1991 (1991.480.1,.2)
The descriptive quality of line is characteristic of Kano painting from all periods. Early works with figures in a landscape, like this pair of screens long in a daimyo family collection, are replete with the idiosyncratic life of the brush. Many of the ink conventions (for example, the "ax cut" strokes used in the rocks) are drawn from Chinese painting. Chinese themes, too, had great meaning in Muromachi culture. Four Accomplishments paintings, which allude to the gentlemanly pursuits of music, games of strategy, calligraphy, and painting, were a popular subject for abbots' quarters and audience rooms of the ruling classes from the Muromachi period into the nineteenth century.
Situated within pockets of space created by overhanging trees, rocks, and architecture, the human subjects in this painting are stately reminders of the spiritual appreciation of nature. Care has been taken to draw each scholar and each of the attendant youths naturalistically. At the same time, the brushwork has an energy independent of the subjects it represents.