MT. FUJI AT MUSASHI PLAIN, Pair of six-panel folding screens, Ink and colors on gold paper,
66 1/2 x 24 1/4 inches (each panel)
MT. FUJI AT MUSASHI PLAIN
In 17th century Japan, the ability to recall poems through visual associations was an attribute of a cultured individual. Musashi Plain, the subject of this pair of folding screens, is rich with poetic allusions and stories of tragic woe. Deeply connected to the autumn season, when the full moon is most beautiful, this famous scenic place offers a view of distant Mt. Fuji.
The season is clearly indicated by the arrangement of autumnal flowers and grasses arranged in a band across the bottom of the painting. Our vantage point is low, as if seated in the meadow itself, looking through the screen of grasses, waiting for the perfect orb of the full moon to rise above the horizon as is seen in the left screen.
In the right screen, in the far distance appearing from behind bold clouds and mist, Mt. Fuji towers above the grasses. The artist unites the two screens with horizontal bands of brilliant mineral green, solid gold clouds with scalloped edges and the delicate tracery of grasses against which autumnal flowers are organized in a rhythmic progression. The diagonal opposition of moon and mountain break the insistent flatness and horizontality of the design. This scene not only calls to mind classical poems, but also lyrically suggests the fleeting impermanence of beauty.