two phoenixes at center, perched on a gnarled tree branch; waves at L; greens, blues, pink and white; seal and inscription, LRC

Phoenixes and Paulownia [right of a pair], early 18th century

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In 1674, Kano Tanshin succeeded his father, Tan'yū, to become head of the famous and powerful Kano House of painters in the capital of Edo, where the studio catered to the military rulers of Japan. The subject of this pair of screens suggests that it may have been commissioned to convey a political message. According to ancient Chinese and Japanese beliefs, phoenixes only descend from the heavens when earthly kingdoms are under just and compassionate leadership. There they raise their young in the boughs of paulownia trees, the nectar of which provides nourishment. Thus, these screens would have served as more than just a beautiful backdrop in a palatial hall; they would have suggested that their owner was an admirable governor.

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Tanshin, Phoenixes and Paulownia (#310)
Details
Title
Phoenixes and Paulownia [right of a pair]
Artist Life
1653 - 1718
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2003.57.1
Curator Approved

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two phoenixes at center, perched on a gnarled tree branch; waves at L; greens, blues, pink and white; seal and inscription, LRC