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These screens by the samurai artist Watanabe Shikō are typical of the Rinpa style of painting. The Rinpa school emerged in Kyoto in the early 1600s and is distinctive for its dramatic compositions and bold use of gold and colours. One of the most characteristic Rinpa painting techniques is called tarashikomi, in which ink or colour is dripped onto another area of colour that is still wet, to create a softly pooled effect – ideal for depicting leaves or petals.
Shown here are the flowers and plants of the four seasons. Japanese screens are designed to be viewed from right to left, so spring is shown on the far right of this screen, progressing through to winter on the far left of its pair [EA1970.175].
Katz, Janice, Japanese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, with an introductory essay by Oliver Impey (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2003), p. 14