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Cranes
late 17th-early 18th century

Ogata Kōrin , (Japanese, 1658-1716)
Edo period

Ink, color, gold, and silver on paper
H: 166.0 W: 371.0 cm
Japan

Purchase F1956.20-21

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Cranes, symbolic of longevity in East Asia, move in dignified procession toward the center of this pair of screens. Stylized water patterns in darkened tones of silver and blue occupy the upper corners of the screens. Gray cranes, native to eastern Siberia and Manchuria, migrate to Japan every winter.

The striking, unusual symmetry of these screen paintings is reflected in several similar paintings of cranes attributed to Ogata Korin and nineteenth-century painters of the Rimpa school. Korin, whose brother was the ceramic artist Ogata Kenzan (1663–1743), was the artist whose name was later adapted to designate the Rimpa School. The school's designs featured innovative ideas about design and materials. A native of Kyoto, Korin returned there in the final years of his life after spending several years in Edo (modern Tokyo) seeking new patrons. The style of these screens is associated with the large compositions of Korin's late years.