Landscape of the Four Seasons

A work made of pair of six-panel screens; ink and light color on paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of pair of six-panel screens; ink and light color on paper.

Date:

About 1560

Artist:

Sesson Shukei
Japanese, c. 1490-after 1577

About this artwork

雪村周継は、室町時代の禅宗の画僧である。京都を訪れたとみなされておらず、独自の画風を確立したのは、関東地方を遍歴した時期であった。

この作品は、本展覧会唯一の、16世紀の作品である。夢幻的な中国の山水が、眼前に、空間奥深く広がっている。屏風の折れにより、その効果は一層、高められている。絵の構成は、縦書きの日本の書と同様に、右から左へと展開しており、四季の移り変わりは、右隻の1年のはじまりとなる紅梅から、左隻の積雪の山へと表わされている。右隻の山寺と左隻の村落は、舟の往来する入江を取り囲んでいる。人々は、せわしなく動き回り、岩の形は、地形的にあり得ない程ねじれ、滝水は、指を広げたように、しぶきをあげている。

このように、中国を起源とする禅宗の信者たちが理想とした風景画とは、知性と信仰の営みを妨げられることなく探求できまた四季の一巡が自然の世界が本来もっている調和と再生を物語るような楽園を表わすものであった。

The artist Sesson Shukei was a Zen Buddhist monk-painter who achieved his idiosyncratic painterly style during an itinerant career in eastern Japan, seemingly without traveling to Kyoto, Japan’s cultural and political capital at the time. His Landscape of the Four Seasons is the only work in the exhibition from the 16th century. Sesson’s dreamlike Chinese landscape expands before our eyes in understandable spatial depth, an effect that is enhanced by the folds of the screen. We read the composition like the Japanese language, from right to left, and follow the flow of the seasons from the first red plum blossoms of the year, all the way across to the snow-covered mountains on the far left. A mountain temple on the right and a village on the left enclose an inlet upon which boats come and go. People bustle about in activity, geologically impossible rock formations twist and turn, and water splashes out from the bottom of a waterfall like reaching fingers.

For adherents of Zen Buddhism, a sect with origins in China, idealized landscapes described a world akin to paradise, in which intellectual and religious activities could be pursued unhindered and the cycle of the seasons spoke of the harmony and rebirth inherent in the natural world.

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Asian Art

Artist

Sesson Shukei

Title

Landscape of the Four Seasons

Origin

Japan

Date

1501–1600

Medium

Pair of six-panel screens; ink and light color on paper

Dimensions

Each: 174.2 x 357.2 cm

Credit Line

Gift of the Joseph and Helen Regenstein Foundation

Reference Number

1958.167-168

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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