The sublime simplicity of the supple necks and luxuriant feathers of this group of cranes is complemented by the tangle of angular legs at ground level. A patch of water bridges the gap between the two screens, compelling unification in the mind’s eye. As the birds call to and gaze at each other in the shallow pictorial space, their body language echoes the distinctive coiled ripples inked on the azurite water. Although iconic in its own right, Kiitsu’s painting also self-consciously extends an emblem of the School of Kōrin by creatively reprising a crane painting by his master, Sakai Hōitsu (1761–1828). Hōitsu’s painting was itself a reworking of a magnificent pair of crane screens by Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716).


  • Title: Cranes
  • Creator: Suzuki Kiitsu
  • Creator Lifespan: 1796–1858
  • Date Created: Edo period, c. 1820–25
  • Credit Line: Promised gift of Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg
  • External Link: Harvard Art Museums
  • Medium: Pair of two-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold on paper

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