柴田是真筆 烏鷺図屏風 Three Crows in Flight and Two Egrets at Rest
Shibata Zeshin (Japanese, 1807–1891)
Meiji period (1868–1912)
late 19th century
Two-panel folding screen; colored lacquer and white pigment on gilt paper
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)
Fishbein-Bender Collection, Gift of T. Richard Fishbein and Estelle P. Bender, 2011
Not on view
Two panels of this brilliant gold-leaf screen are balanced with 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 also used on other examples of avian painting. Zeshin, a master lacquerer, also earned esteem for his paintings using lacquer, a medium decidedly more challenging to work with than standard pigments. This tour-de-force painting was recorded by the Zeshin expert Goke Tadaomi in Masterpieces of Shibata Zeshin (Shibata Zeshin meihinshū, 1981) when it was still mounted as two separate framed wooden panels.
Signature: Signatures (each panel): Zeshin; seals: (right panel) Tairyūkyo (Residence facing willow trees), the other Shin
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Birds in the Art of Japan," February 2, 2013–July 28, 2013.