Egrets and Crows, Shibata Zeshin (Japanese, 1807–1891), Individual panels remounted as a two-panel folding screen; colored lacquer, white pigment, and gold leaf on paper, Japan

柴田是真筆 烏鷺図屏風
Egrets and Crows

Artist:
Shibata Zeshin (Japanese, 1807–1891)
Period:
Meiji period (1868–1912)
Date:
late 19th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Individual panels remounted as a two-panel folding screen; colored lacquer, white pigment, and gold leaf on paper
Dimensions:
Image (each panel): 53 1/2 x 36 in. (135.9 x 91.4 cm)
Overall (each panel): 60 7/8 x 39 1/4 in. (154.6 x 99.7 cm)
Classification:
Screens
Credit Line:
Fishbein-Bender Collection, Gift of T. Richard Fishbein and Estelle P. Bender, 2011
Accession Number:
2011.572.3
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 226
The two panels of this brilliant gold-leaf screen display contrasting scenes of two egrets at rest and three crows in flight, with white and black forms counterbalancing each other to mesmerizing effect. The white color of the egrets was accomplished by cutting out the gold-leaf layer and exposing the paper, a technique the artist used on other examples of avian painting. Shibata Zeshin was predominantly known as a master lacquer craftsman, and also incorporated the technique into his paintings. Here, the lacquer employed in place of ink adds a rich, black sheen to the surface. This tour-de-force composition, originally mounted on two separate framed wooden panels, pictorially blends elements of the Maruyama-Shijō school, in which Zeshin first trained, with features of Rinpa art.
Signature: Signatures (each panel): Zeshin; seals: (right panel) Tairyūkyo (Residence facing willow trees), the other Shin

是真; 真
[ Sebastian Izzard, LLC , New York, 2002; to Fishbein and Bender ]; T. Richard Fishbein and Estelle P. Bender , New York (2002–2011; to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Birds in the Art of Japan," February 2, 2013–July 28, 2013.