Detail View: The AMICA Library: Birds, Ducks, and Willow Tree

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Creator Name: 
Kano School
Creator Nationality: 
Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Name-CRT: 
Kano School
Birds, Ducks, and Willow Tree
Full view
Creation Date: 
Muromachi period, mid-16th century
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Ink on paper
Creation Place: 
54 x 45 in. (137.2 x 114.3 cm)
AMICA Contributor: 
Asia Society
Owner Location: 
New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Parts and Pieces: 
folding screen panels mounted as a hanging scroll
The Kano school, a hereditary family of painters employed by the Tokugawa shoguns and other military rulers, dominated Japanese painting from the 16th through 19th century. In addition, most other major artists of this period studied with Kano masters before developing their own styles. The founders of the Kano school were among the first professional artists to paint Chinese-style ink paintings. Prior to the 15th century, this type of painting was primarily the art of Buddhist monks or amateur painters,who were usually scholars of Chinese thought and culture. Kano mastery of Chinese-style landscape painting also contributed to the success of the school in the 15th century, after this theme became popular.

Kano Masanobu (c. 1434-1530), the founder of the Kano school, was a member of a minor samurai family. Both he and his father served as painters to the Ashikaga shogun Yoshimasa (1436-1490). The rise of the Kano school, however, is generally attributed to the artistic and organizational genius of Masanobu's grandson Motonobu (1476-1559), one of the most influential painters in 16th-century Japan. Motonobu developed a distinctive style of large-scale painting well suited to the increasing demand for large interior decoration schemes, and created a workshop system that could meet the demands of a growing, wealthy clientele. This combination was continued by Motonobu's son Eitoku (1543-1590), and creative variations and reinterpretations of compositional types and motifs invented by these two masters remained the hallmark of the Kano school for centuries.

The Kano school's trademark use of Chinese prototypes is illustrated in this large hanging scroll of Birds, Ducks, and Willow Tree. Four ducks (or small geese) are shown resting on the water near a river bank while several small birds, including swallows, flit near or sit on the branches of a willow tree at the edge of the bank. A larger unidentified bird rests on the lower branch of the tree. The comp

Related Document Description: 
Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 96.
Related Document Description: 
Sutton, Denys. 'Search for Perfection.' Apollo (November 1983), p. 363.
Related Document Description: 
Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Hong Kong and Singapore: Hong Kong Museum of Art and National Museum Singapore, 1993, pp. 150, 151.
Related Document Description: 
Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Tokyo: Idemitsu Museum of Arts, 1992, pp. 104, 105, 142-43.
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