A very charming, smaller than usual Byobu screen, pure gold leaf and paint on paper.
Dating from the late Edo period, circa 1840's, this appears to be a painting of the Shijo school and may be the left hand screen of a pair. For a similar composition, see plate 18 of The art of the Folding Screen (Ashmolean Museum) "Birds and Flowers of the Four Seasons" by Shijo painter Yokoyama Seiki.
The Shijo school concentrated less on the exact depiction of its subject, but rather on expressing the inner spirit and usually has an element of playfulness and humor, popular motifs include tranquil landscapes and kachō (bird and flower). You can't look at these lovely little quail without feeling joyful. With the gold leaf bringing warmth and glamour you have a perfect combination of charm and class.
Each leaf is 39cm (15.3 inches) by 76cm (29.9 inches), coming in at 156cm or 61 inches overall.
Overall excellent with minor wear consistent with age and use. The lacquer frame has a small loss at the left corner of the first leaf, and there is more general flaking and loss to the lacquer of the whole frame on the underside (not visible when displayed).
The bottom left corner of the first leaf also has a stain (possibly water damage) over the silk brocade inner border. Small losses to the paint on a couple of the flowers. Damages to the woodblock printed reverse, where someone had attached a strip of wood to the backs of the frame. This has been removed, leaving holes to the paper.
Please use the Google Drive link for more images
Care and display:
Byobu screens were made to be displayed on the floor, normally as room dividers or as a backdrop for an important person. They are ingeniously constructed with folding paper hinges, leaving no gaps at the back and with the ability to fold forwards or backwards as required. They are NOT made to be displayed flat, on a wall as per western artworks. This will need to be kept on the floor, or on a shelf or sideboard where it can stand comfortably, with each leaf angled as intended or you risk permanantly damaging the structure.
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Japanese Edo Period Byobu Screen
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