Two picture folding screens by artists of the Kano school, the most prominent in Japan, in the 16th and 17th centuries have been found in private ownership, the Kyoto National Museum said Dec. 5.
The artworks have been appraised as being in the class of nationally important cultural properties, a museum official said.
“Kitano Shato Yurakuzu Byobu,” a six-segment screen portraying a drinking party against the backdrop of Kitano Tenmangu shrine in Kyoto’s Kamigyo Ward, was created by Kano Takanobu (1571-1618).
Takanobu is the second son of Kano Eitoku (1543-1590), a renowned painter who led the Kano school during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period, which lasted about 30 years in the late 16th century. The period is known for a number of pieces representing Japanese art history.
The screen depicts people with delicate facial expressions and detailed kimono patterns. It is considered a masterpiece from Takanobu’s twilight years.
The other work is “Maki ni Shirasagizu Byobu,” a pair of two folding screens by Kano Sanraku (1559-1635). It was identified as Sanraku’s work based on the style how tree branches and egrets were drawn and how shade was represented.
Experts believe that the pair was used as sliding partitions that used to grace the interior of a castle or residence of an influential feudal warlord.
Sanraku, a senior disciple of Eitoku, established the Kyogano branch in Kyoto after his peers in the Kano school relocated to what is now Tokyo from the ancient capital when the Tokugawa Shogunate hired them to commission its art projects.
“The painting by Takanobu allows a glimpse into people’s life back then and Sanraku’s piece is dynamic,” said Hideo Yamamoto, curator of the museum. “We hope visitors will enjoy comparing the two as well as the wide variety of paintings produced by the Kano school.”
The works will go on display at a special exhibition the museum will hold between next April and May.