Kano Morinobu (Japan, Edo Period (1615-1868), 1675-1724),
six panel screen, ink and color on paper, 68 1/2 x 146 1/2 in.; 173.99 x 372.11 cm
Gift of the John B. Sumner Collection, 1970.71
Families or “schools” of professional artists controlled the appearance and production of later Japanese painting. These lineage groups owned systems of workshops through which they secured patrons and passed down trade secrets. The most successful school was that of the Kano family, which supplied official painters to the shogunate. Kano artists often worked in large formats suited to castle walls and palace rooms. They were famous for rendering Chinese subjects and styles, like auspicious cranes brushed in ink on paper. By adding such touches as flecks of gold paint, they successfully adapted Chinese images to Japanese tastes. This folding screen by the later Kano artist Morinobu is the result of generations of rigorous artistic training and strict maintenance of proper subjects and styles over the centuries. Screens are moveable paintings used to divide large spaces in palaces, temples and homes. They are usually viewed while seated on the floor.