Egrets in Willow [left of the pair Egrets in Plum and Willow], second half 16th century

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Born in remote eastern Japan, far from the cultural center of Kyoto, Sesson Shūkei taught himself to paint by studying the brush styles of earlier Chinese and Japanese masters, whose works were held in many old collections in the region. These screens reveal his keen interest in the Chinese Zen painter-monk Muqi (c. 1210–after 1269). Of the dozens of extant paintings by Sesson, a Zen priest himself, none so clearly attests to his admiration for Muqi as this misty, moonlit scene of herons cavorting around a gnarled old plum tree and willow. Using the so-called “boneless” technique for which Muqi was famous, Sesson avoided contour lines, relying instead on soft washes of ink. He also borrowed several motifs directly from paintings by Muqi. Indeed, this pair of screens is as much a visual eulogy to the Chinese master as they are an evocative picture of auspicious bird and trees.

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White Herons in Plum and Willow screen (#244)
Details
Title
Egrets in Willow [left of the pair Egrets in Plum and Willow]
Artist Life
1504 - 1589
Role
Painter
Accession Number
65.7.1
Curator Approved

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