Goose and Reeds

About this object

The genre of bird-and-flower painting within East Asian art featured close-up views, with a single creature, or a small group, shown in isolation. Here, we see a wild goose standing alone in a wintry landscape. This theme was established in Chinese painting already by the tenth century and was taken up in Japan as part of the repertoire of bird-and-flower imagery. The theme represented the gentleman-scholar's ideal of a peaceful, solitary retreat within nature, an escape from the hustle and bustle of society and the complications of politics and power. The bird is depicted by a clump of snow-laden reeds, suggesting the shore of a lake. It opens its beak to call out, probably to its mate returning home. The leaden sky above is rendered with horizontal bands of ink wash. The graceful curve of the goose's neck was particularly hard to capture, and the attempt here is somewhat unconvincing. The two-line inscription records that the image was done by Katei in the painting studio within his home in Ochanomizu, an area in central Tokyo, in summer 1896.
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