Flowers of the Four Seasons in Chinese and Japanese Art
February 7—September 7, 2014
Gallery 225

China and Japan feature wide-ranging climatic zones and richly diverse flora. As a result, the Chinese and Japanese senses of beauty developed in tandem with ever-changing natural environments—a theme that is explored in Flowers of the Four Seasons in Chinese and Japanese Art.

The major artistic genre known as bird-and-flower painting is represented by Lotuses and Ducks, a pair of Southern Song hanging scrolls that evoke the lushness of summer. In 18th-century Yangzhou, wealthy merchants wishing to emulate scholarly tastes commissioned literati-style paintings such as Enjoyment of Chrysanthemums by Hua Yan, which depicts the cultivation of potted chrysanthemums in autumn. Summer Grasses and Flowers, a newly acquired Japanese painting by Fukae Roshū, shows two flowers and a grass emblematic of the summer: bigleaf hydrangea, morning star lily, and southern crabgrass. Visually anchoring this exhibition is Flowers and Plants of the Four Seasons, a pair of 18th-century gold-leafed folding screens from the Rinpa school.

The exhibition was curated by Philip Hu, associate curator of Asian art.