large white and red peonies on branches with leaves blowing in the wind; white peony to center left, with bud immediately above; red peony at right edge slightly above center

Peonies in the Wind, early 19th century

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Two peonies in full bloom sway as a gust of wind pushes them forward—rain is coming. Every year, Japan has a rainy season from June to July called tsuyu, or “plum rain,” so named because the timing matches the ripening of plums. Although commonly depicted in Japanese paintings as a subject, peonies were not native to Japan but originated in China. Peonies exploded in popularity among gardeners in the late 1600s, ahead of the morning glory boom in the 1800s—reflected in the nearby painting of morning glories by Watanabe Nangaku.

Artist Sakai Hōitsu shifted his creative approach after discovering the work of painter Ogata Kōrin’s. Sakai’s later works incorporate Ogata’s signature techniques such as tarashikomi—the application of a second layer of paint before the first is dry, resulting in a watery effect—seen here on the leaves.

Details
Title
Peonies in the Wind
Artist Life
1761 - 1828
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2013.31.22
Curator Approved

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large white and red peonies on branches with leaves blowing in the wind; white peony to center left, with bud immediately above; red peony at right edge slightly above center