Kimono with Pheasants amid Peonies
Meiji (1868–1912)–Shōwa period (1926–89)
first half of the 20th century
Paste-resist dyeing with silk embroidered accents on silk crepe
Overall: 63 × 52 in. (160 × 132.1 cm)
Gift of Sue Cassidy Clark, in memory of Terry Satsuki Milhaupt, 2013
Vividly colored pheasants and peonies appear against a ground that graduates delicately from light brown to beige from top to hem. The depiction of pheasants amid the “king of flowers,” as peonies were known in East Asia, has a long history in Japanese pictorial arts; they often represent summer on screens, sliding doors, and paintings in premodern times. The auspicious peony motif came to Japan from China, and their combination with long-tailed birds was gradually adapted to Japanese tastes, also becoming a favored subject in decorative arts. The rocks, birds, and pink and apricot-color flowers are depicted on the front of the kimono, with the left and right halves of the composition almost merging at the back in a modern rendering of the classical pattern. The realistic depiction of the flowers and the birds reflects the influence of Western oil painting.