Waxwings, Cherry Blossoms, and Bamboo

Kiyohara Yukinobu Japanese

Not on view

Kiyohara Yukinobu was known in the early Edo period as a “woman highly accomplished in the arts,” or keishū. Her husband was a pupil of Kano Tan’yū, one of the most prominent painters of the age, and she herself, as Tan’yū’s grandniece, may have studied with him. Here, she depicts three waxwings (Japanese: hirenjaku) in various poses: one rests serenely on the branch of an aged cherry tree in full bloom, indicating a late spring setting; one is captured in flight; and the third perches on a rock, espying insect prey in a stream. Since waxwings, after mating, rub their heads together in a way that suggests a display of mutual affection, they came to be a symbol of marital harmony and familial prosperity, which is one possible interpretation of the painting.

Waxwings, Cherry Blossoms, and Bamboo, Kiyohara Yukinobu (Japanese, 1643–1682), Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk, Japan

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