The Four Accomplishments

Artist: Kano Motonobu (Japanese, 1477–1559)

Period: Muromachi period (1392–1573)

Date: mid-16th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink and color on paper

Dimensions: Image (each screen): 67 x 150 in. (170.2 x 381 cm)

Classification: Screens

Credit Line: Dr. and Mrs. Roger G. Gerry Collection, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Roger G. Gerry, 1991

Accession Number: 1991.480.1, .2


Within a dramatic landscape of towering pines, distant peaks, and roaring waterfalls, are four scenes of human activity, each of which alludes to one of the four pursuits appropriate for a Chinese gentleman: music, the board game Go, calligraphy, and painting. At far right, a scholar is accompanied by a servant carrying his zither (qin). They move toward a riverbank upon which three gentlemen are absorbed in a game of Go. In the left screen, two boys carrying bundles of books and scrolls follow a hatted gentlemen headed toward a thatched pavilion. Inside, three servants have unrolled a painted hanging scroll for their master, who stands at the parapet gazing at a waterfall. Moving right to left through the screens, we find that we have also traveled temporally, from the barren plum branches of early spring, through a hazy summer, geese alighting on a sandbank in autumn, and finally to the snow-covered rocks of winter.