Birds and Flowers of the Four Seasons

Geiai16th Century

Kyoto National Museum

Kyoto National Museum

Not much background is known about the artist Geiai, including his dates, but he may also been known as Sōritsu, whose style follows that of Sōtan (1413–1481), an official painter for the Ashikaga shogunate. Geiai is believed to have been active in Kyoto around the mid-sixteenth century and seems to have had a particularly close connection with Daitoku-ji Temple. He most likely worked on a set of screen paintings (later destroyed in a fire at the end of the Edo period) for the abbot’s quarters of the Daitoku-ji subtemple Ryūshō-ji, when it was rebuilt in 1541 (Tenbun 10).
This painting is one of Geiai’s masterworks. Although the seal was cut out and Shūbun’s seal added later, the painting clearly displays the former's style in the whip-like supple movement of the pine, peach, and camellia, as if hit by a sudden gust of wind. The painter seems to have been fascinated by ways to depict the movement of wind. This piece was previously owned by the first director of the Imperial Museum (now the Tokyo National Museum), Kuki Ryūichi (1852-1931).

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