Egrets, Peonies, and Willows

Yamamoto Baiitsu Japanese

Not on view

A pair of herons pause in shallow water beneath a drooping willow branch and tall stems of flowering plants, painted in the “boneless” manner, with limited ink outline and pale wash. Yamamoto Baiitsu mingled with Kyoto literati circles but also sought varied artistic influences in the work of Chinese painter Shen Nanpin (Shen Quan, 1682–1758), who worked in Japan from 1731 to 1733, and other Chinese artists known in Japan. He transformed what he learned into an idiosyncratic style characterized by a sensuous surface quality and serene clarity. Distinctive to his technique was an inclination to use ink in the same manner in which colors were customarily applied—not only for linear brushwork but also for soft washes. Skillfully combining ink wash with washes of color and well-defined, sinuous contours, he contributed a lyrical, intimate vision of nature to Literati (Nanga) painting.

Egrets, Peonies, and Willows, Yamamoto Baiitsu (Japanese, 1783–1856), Hanging scroll; color on silk, Japan

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