These paired images function as contrasting emblems of winter and summer. Fiat horizontal lines suggest quiet, dormant winter and the forlorn boat elicits a shiver of sympathy from the viewer. Summer, on the other hand, is filled with color and cheer; the forms of rocks and foliage seem to tumble over one another, giving the whole mountain a sense of growth and energy.
This diptych represents two activities that personified the ideal literati life. The winter scene depicts fishing from a boat, a pastime appreciated in the literati tradition as a humble means of experiencing nature, a Taoist ideal of daily life. The summer scene depicts the visit of a friend. Taiga enlivens both of these scenes with a strong narrative feel. Particularly in the summer scene, he engages our attention by suggesting, for example, that the friends might climb up the mountain to the viewing deck to enjoy the scenery. To highlight such narrative moments, he judiciously uses accents of bright red.
Signature: Kashō (lower right)
Marking: Seals: 2 (lower right): Kashō
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings of the Nanga School," January 27, 1990–May 13, 1990.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Kodai-ji Lacquer," 1995.