Imao Keinen: Four-Panel Screen Of Two Flying Geese

Imao Keinen (1845-1924) Signature and Seal.

Silk, Ink and Mineral pigments.

W 370cm H 181cm

• Exhibited at the Manggha Museum, Krakow (2014)

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Two birds in flight struggle against the wind to join the rest of the group. The inspiration of Maruyama Okyo (133-1795) and his students is clearly visible in this striking painting: a very similar pair of screens depicting a flock of geese on a shore of a tumultuous sea was painted by a pupil of the old master in 1783. Keinen clearly admired his predecessors, but he did not simply copy their work. He added some of his own signature reeds painted with broad, dashing brush strokes. They make a striking contrast to the finely detailed depiction of the birds.

Keinen was born and educated in Kyoto and his life always revolved around the old capital. He is most known for his series of woodblock prints published in books in the 1890s, portraying birds in four seasons. In the popular perception, this relatively small accomplishment overshadows the fact that he was one of the most prominent painters of his time. Keinen became a member of the Art Committee of the Imperial Household in 1904, and of the Imperial Art Academy in 1919.