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Drying Fishnets in the Four Seasons

Yusho Kaiho

Asian Art

Because they were freestanding and easily moved and stored, folding screens were used as flexible decorations in Japanese palaces and temples. They served as temporary room dividers and, through their style and subject matter, set the tone for special occasions. The pair of screens shown here likely dates to the Momoyama period (1573–1615), when many military leaders commissioned screens with an abundance of gold to brighten the dark interiors of their castles.

The subject of fishnets hanging on beachside posts was popular in part because it referred to a Chinese theme, “Fishing Village in Evening Glow,” that had been treated by East Asian artists and poets for centuries as part of the larger suite of subjects called “Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers.” Here the fishnets frame a subtle story of seasonal change: moving from right to left, we see the new beach grasses of spring, which grow tall in the summer, go to seed and start to yellow in the fall, and then completely desiccate in the winter. These screens, and a very similar pair in the Imperial Household Collection in Tōkyō, have long been attributed to the Momoyama-period artist Kaihō Yūshō, but they bear neither a signature nor seals to confirm this attribution.
MEDIUM Ink, color and gold on paper
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES ca. 1610
    PERIOD Momoyama Period
    DIMENSIONS Overall: 66 1/6 x 148 1/2 in. (168.1 x 377.2 cm) Image: 59 3/16 x 141 3/4 in. (150.3 x 360.0 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Carll H. de Silver Fund and Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION One of a pair of six-panel screens, the other half being 59.7.2. The screens depict fishnets draped across posts, among grasses along a sandy shoreline. The shore and clouds are represented in gold. The screens trace the four seasons, running from right to left, with short green grasses marking spring, taller grasses marking summer, browning grasses gone to seed indicating autumn, and snow indicating winter.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Yusho Kaiho (Japanese, 1533–1615). Drying Fishnets in the Four Seasons, ca. 1610. Ink, color and gold on paper, Overall: 66 1/6 x 148 1/2 in. (168.1 x 377.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Carll H. de Silver Fund and Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund, 59.7.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 59.7.1_SL3.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 59.7.1_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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