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Screen depicting Musashino Plains

Hasegawa SchoolMomoyama - early Edo period (16-17th century)

Iwami Art Museum

Iwami Art Museum
Masuda-shi, Japan

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A scene of autumn flowers and grasses, including bush clover, chrysanthemums, bellflowers, boneset, patrinia, eulalia, etc. applied on gold leaf to create an image of a wide plain. Autumn grasses or autumn plains were common subjects for screens but as this pair depicts a new moon on the right-hand screen and Mount Fuji on the left, we know it to be a picture of the Musashino plains. In ancient poems we hear that: ‘Musashino is a place devoid of peaks behind which the moon may set, just white clouds over the grasses’, or ‘Musashino is a place with no mountains behind which the moon may set, it rises and sets in the grasses’. This kind of design became popular in the Momoyama period, later becoming standardized during the Edo period. In this work, the grasses are large and depicted with vigor while Mt. Fuji is portrayed in ink with great grandeur, the entire picture overflowing with the richness of nature, making it clear that it was painted in the period before the subject had been reduced to a formalized pattern.
There is no signature or seal to identify the artist, but judging from the style, it is thought to be the work of an artist belonging to the Hasegawa school, one theory being that it is by HASEGAWA Togaku (? - 1623), son-in-law of the school’s founder, HASEGAWA Tohaku (1539-1610), another being that it was carried out by Tohaku himself in cooperation with his eldest son, Kyuzo (1568-93). Works in a similar style by the Hasegawa school can be seen in the wall paintings of Chishaku-in Temple, created by Tohaku’s studio, the ‘Bush Clover and Eulalia Screen’ by Tohaku, or Totaku’s ‘Autumn Grasses Screen’ (Nanzen-ji Temple). The Hasegawa School was founded by HASEGAWA Tohaku (1539 - 1610), who also referred to himself as the ‘Fifth Generation Sesshu’ at the same time that UNKOKU Togan was insisting that he was Sesshu’s true successor.

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  • Title: Screen depicting Musashino Plains
  • Creator: Hasegawa School
  • Date: Momoyama - early Edo period (16-17th century)
  • Physical Dimensions: w367 x h165.8 cm each
  • Type: Pair of six-panel folding screens, ink, color and gold on paper

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