Attributed to Kano Takanobu (Japanese, 15711618)
Two six–panel folding screens: ink, color, and gold on gilt paper (2006.42.1,.2)
This stunning pair of folding screens illustrates the legendary meeting between Emperor Wen of ancient China's Zhou dynasty (ca. 1050256 B.C.) and an impoverished fisherman named Lü Shang. On the right screen, the emperor, full of pomp and splendor, approaches with his retinue, while on the left, separated by a vast void, the lone fisherman awaits his destiny. Although the screens bear neither the seal nor the signature of the artist, several stylistic features point to the painter Kano Takanobu, second son of Eitoku and father of Tan'yu, the two giants of the successful Kano school. His signature is apparent in the gold ink highlights on the tree trunks and rocks and in the bamboo and flowering plants on the right screen and the tall trees with withering leaves on the left, which provide lyrical relief to the otherwise austere composition. Most important, the figures' rather unusual fish-shaped eyes are shared by the figures in Hotei, a painting with Takanobu's seal and signature that is also in the Museum's collection. These screens and the signed work will serve as benchmarks for the attribution and analysis of Takanobu's works.