Morning Glories

Artist: Suzuki Kiitsu (Japanese, 1796–1858)

Period: Edo period (1615–1868)

Date: early 19th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold leaf on paper

Dimensions: Image (each screen): 70 3/16 x 12 ft. 5 1/2 in. (178.3 x 379.7 cm)

Classification: Screens

Credit Line: Seymour Fund, 1954

Accession Number: 54.69.1, .2


In this vivid display of rich blue and green against a gold-leaf background, Kiitsu concentrated on the proliferation of the blossoms and leaves by omitting any indication of space or context. The exuberant outburst is carefully orchestrated into two movements: the blossoms on the right rise up from the ground, while those on the left cascade down as if supported by an unseen trellis.

Trained as a textile dyer, Kiitsu studied painting under Sakai Hōitsu (1761–1828), with whom he prepared an illustrated compendium of classic Rinpa art, One Hundred Paintings by Kōrin (Kōrin hyakuzu). Evident in these screens, especially in the brilliant decorative effects of thick mineral pigments on gold leaf, is the influence of both textile design and the Rinpa school.