Musk Cat

Uto Gyoshi Japanese

Not on view

A fluffy black-and-white musk cat pauses beside a blooming red camellia on a late winter day, doing its best to ignore the agitated titmouse on a willow bough above him. Although not native to Japan, musk cats (jakōneko), or civets, were known in Japan through early Chinese paintings that were imported beginning in the 1200s. These nocturnal, feline mammals became a favorite subject of artists affiliated with the formidable Kano school, established in Kyoto in the late 1400s. A large square seal at lower right names the painter of thiswork as Uto Gyoshi, an obscure figure who is thought to have been affiliated with a satellite Kano studio in the eastern castle town of Odawara.

Musk Cat, Uto Gyoshi (Japanese, active second half of 16th century), Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper, Japan

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