Celebrating three-year anniversary of renewal – Best of Museum Collection Part 1 Red and White Plum Blossoms (National Treasure)

2019.01.25|Fri| - 2019.03.12|Tue|


MOA Museum of Art presents its finest collections in this exhibition celebrating its successful three years following the museum’s major overhaul.

The National Treasure Red and White Plum Blossoms is Ogata Kōrin’s masterpiece that defines Japanese art, created during the Edo-period painter’s last years. It showcases the finest techniques of creation in magnificent trunks of the trees using the tarashikomi technique, plum flowers without outlines, and the layout of buds — all these together create dynamic and highly decorative design on the screen.

The flow in the center is delicately patterned in Kōrin’s dexterous brush work, and it asserts presence in its form that inundates the foreground. Recent scientific investigations have revealed that the water pattern is created by chemically treating pattern-masked silver leaves, a highly technical and innovative method in Kogei crafting. Growing up in a family of textile merchant, Kōrin was familiar with various techniques of fabric dyeing. This pair of folding screens is an interesting example in which the artist tried such dyeing techniques on gold and silver leaves.

The exhibition also presents the other two works of National Treasures housed in the Museum, namely, Nonomura Ninsei’s Tea-leaf Jar with a design of Wisteria and the calligraphy album Tekagami Kanboku-jo, a compilation of excellent calligraphic works from 8th to 15th centuries. Other exhibits include the statue of Avalokitesvara (Important Cultural Property) and Buddhist art, Japanese and Chinese paintings such as Gentleman Viewing the Moon (Important Cultural Property), Urushi Kogei craft works of Cosmetic Box with a landscape design in maki-e (Important Cultural Property), and many other works of excellence rooted in Eastern art traditions.

RED AND WHITE PLUM BLOSSOMS    Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716)
Edo period, 18th c.   National Treasure

The trunk of the white plum tree is almost entirely outside of the screen, while the trunk of the red plum tree is almost entirely within, creating a dramatic contrast. Meanwhile a stream runs through the center producing an impression of expansion. Elements including the elegantly stylized plum flowers and water rings, and the application of tarashikomi to depict the tree trunks, all combine to yield a deep sense of rhythm and a stunning decorative effect.


National Treasure

This album is one of the three most well known collections of outstanding calligraphy, the other two being Moshiogusa in the Kyoto National Museum Collection and Minuyono-tomo in the Idemitsu Museum of Arts Collection. Kambokujō, meaning a Castle of Brush and Ink, contains 311 pieces of excellent calligraphy from the Nara to the Muromachi periods.

TEA-LEAF JAR   Nonomura Ninsei   Edo period, 17th c.
National Tresure

This tea-leaf jar is known as the most famous of the many masterpieces by Nonomura Ninsei, the master of Kyoto ware. Blooming wisteria flowers are painted over a warm white glaze in enamels of red, green, purple, gold, and silver in an ingenious composition that harmonizes perfectly with the elegant shape of the jar featuring thin walls of uniform thickness.

Nara period, 8th c.
Important Cultural Property

Ingakyō (Past and Present Sutra of Karma) is a work comprising four volumes telling the story of Buddha’s life. E-ingakyō is the illustrated version with pictures added in the upper half of each scroll. This painting is a fragment from volume four and contains eight scenes, including “Buddha’s First Teaching”. It is a precious example of Nara period painting, only a few of which remain today.

COSMETIC BOX   Kamakura period, 14th c.
Important Cultural Property

The box is covered with scenes of rafts, cormorant fishing and landscape. Inside the box, designs of herons and soaring birds are represented in variety of sophisticated lacquer techniques. During the Kamakura period, the maki-e technique was further advanced in order to add realistic and three-dimensional effects to patterns on lacquerware.