The Japanese folding screen is one of the finest of the varied art forms of Japan. Used as a wind break, both indoors and out, as a privacy screen, and as pure decoration, the folding screen in Japan dates back to at least the Heian period (794-1185).
“Quail Feeding Amidst Susuki and Kikyo” is an important set of screens by the renowned Shijo school artist Matsumura Keibun. Keibun was the younger brother of the founder of the school, Matsumura Goshun (1752-1811), and served as an attendant to Prince Shinnin, for whom he painted a number of private commissions.
These screens depict a bevy of quail feeding by moonlight amidst “susuki” (Pampas grass) and “kikyo” (Chinese bellflowers). The flora evokes an autumnal mood with the heavy dew on the ground, depicted in silver and gold dust, and the shimmering light of the full moon, shown in pale gold foil. The screens are dated to 1830, reflecting the best of Keibun’s mature period. It was with work such as this that Keibun secured the position of the Shijo school as one of the most important of the late Edo period.