The massive black trunk of an ancient plum tree with bending, twisting branches spans nearly sixteen feet across four sliding panels. The reptilian old tree sprouts blossoms, which convey the atmosphere of a cold early spring morning and symbolize birth and renewal. These panels originally formed one wall of a room in the Tenshōin, a subtemple of Myōshinji, a Zen temple in Kyoto. During the 1880s, they were sold to a private collector and trimmed at the top to conform to the smaller dimensions of his home. On the reverse of these panels was a composition depicting the Chinese theme of the Eight Daoist Immortals, which formed a wall in the adjacent room. This composition was later separated and remounted, and it is now in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
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Artist:Kano Sansetsu (Japanese, 1590–1651)
Period:Edo period (1615–1868)
Medium:Four sliding-door panels (fusuma); ink, color, gold, and gold leaf on paper
Dimensions:Overall (of all four panels): 68 3/4 x 191 1/8 in. (174.6 x 485.5 cm) Overall (a): 68 3/8 x 47 5/8 in. (173.7 x 121 cm) Overall (b): 68 3/8 x 48 3/4 in. (173.7 x 123.8 cm) Overall (c): 68 1/2 x 47 3/4 in. (174 x 121.3 cm) Overall (d): 68 1/2 x 47 3/4 in. (174 x 121.3 cm)
Credit Line:The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975
Tenshō'in , Kyoto (until ca. 1886); gifted to Kataoka Naoharu.; Kataoka Naoharu Japanese(until mid-1950's; acquired by Mizutani Nisaburō).; [ Mizutani Nisaburō , Tokyo; sold to Harry G. C. Packard].; [ Harry G. C. Packard American, Tokyo, until 1975; donated and sold to MMA].
Kyoto National Museum. "Kachō no bi: kaiga to ishō," October 5, 1982–November 13, 1982.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seasonal Pleasures in Japanese Art (Part One)," October 12, 1995–April 28, 1996.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Resonant Image: Tradition in Japanese Art (Part Two)," April 27–September 27, 1998.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of Japan," 1999.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Blossoms of Many Colors: A Selection from the Permanent Collection of Japanese Art," March 21–August 9, 2000.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Enlightening Pursuits," February 28–August 5, 2001.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Great Waves: Chinese Themes in the Arts of Korea and Japan I," March 1–September 21, 2003.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Birds, Flowers, and Buddhist Paradise Imagery in Japanese Art," February 14–June 13, 2004.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Mighty Kano School: Orthodoxy and Iconoclasm," December 18, 2004–June 5, 2005.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Screens of Old Plums and Chinese Immortals Reunited," May 6, 2006–October 1, 2006.
Tokyo National Museum. "Masterpieces of Zen Culture from Myōshin-ji," January 20, 2009–March 1, 2009.
Kyoto National Museum. "Masterpieces of Zen Culture from Myōshin-ji," March 24, 2009–May 10, 2009.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Five Thousand Years of Japanese Art: Treasures from the Packard Collection," December 17, 2009–June 10, 2010.
Kyoto National Museum. "Kanō Sanraku and Sansetsu," March 30, 2013–May 12, 2013.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Discovering Japanese Art: American Collectors and the Met," February 14 - September 27, 2015.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Making The Met, 1870–2020," August 29, 2020–January 3, 2021.
Doi Tsugiyoshi 土居次義. Kanō Sanraku, Sansetsu 狩野山楽・山雪. Nihon bijutsu kaiga zenshu; dai 12 kan, vol. 12, Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1976, pl. 51.
Howard, Kathleen, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983, p. 243, fig. 10.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Asia. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987, pp. 34–35, pl. 13.
Tokyo Kokuritsu Bunkazai Kenkyūjo 東京国立文化財研究所, ed. Nyūyōku Metoroporitan Bijutsukan, kaiga, chōkoku ニューヨークメトロポリタン美術館，絵画・彫刻 (Painting and sculpture of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) Kaigai shozai Nihon bijutsuhin chōsa hōkoku 海外所在日本美術品調查報告 (Catalogue of Japanese art in foreign collections) 1. Tokyo: Kobunkazai Kagaku Kenkyūkai, 1991, p. 44, cat. no. 122.
Howard, Kathleen, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 2nd ed., New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994, p. 96, fig. 10.
Tokyo National Museum, Kyoto National Museum, and Yomiuri Shinbunsha. Myōshinji: Kaizan Musō Daishi 650-nen onki kinen 妙心寺 : 開山無相大師650年遠諱記念 (Masterpieces of Zen culture from Myoshinji : commemorating the 650th memorial year of the founder, Muso Daishi). Exh. cat. [Tokyo]: Yomiuri Shinbunsha, 2009, cat. no. 215.
Igarashi Kōichi 五十嵐公一. Kyō Kanō sandai ikinokori no monogatari : Sanraku, Sansetsu, Einō to Kujō Yukiie Igarashi Kōichi cho 京狩野三代の生き残り物語 山楽・山雪・永納と九条幸家. Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 2012, pp. 163–179.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012, p. 106.
辻惟雄. Lineage of Eccentrics: Matabei to Kuniyoshi / Nobuo Tsuji. Translated by Aaron Rio. Tokyo: Kaikai Kiki, 2012, pp. 71–75, pl. 9, fig. 21.
Okudaira Shunroku 奥平俊六, Igarashi Kōichi 五十嵐公一, and Yamashita Yoshiya 山下善也. Kanō Sanraku, Sansetsu: tokubetsu tenrankai 狩野山楽・山雪 : 特別展覧会 (Special exhibtion: Kano Sanraku and Sansetsu). Exh. cat. [Kyoto]: Mainichi Shinbunsha, 2013, pp. 88–95, p. 262, cat. no. 25.
By all accounts, Harry C. G. Packard (1914–1991) was no ordinary collector. He is known to have crisscrossed the United States multiple times in order to sell works of Japanese art, only to return to Japan to purchase more. He had a most unusual vision; whereas the majority of collectors, scholars, and dealers tend to focus on a particular area or medium, Packard’s ambitions were more encyclopedic, not unlike that of the Met.
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