Japanese Meiji Hanging Scroll of Ayu Fish

c. 1850
$3,280 USD
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W: 27.5" D: 1.0" H: 75.0"
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Although Western painting was initially embraced during Japan’s Meiji period (1868–1912), artists brought on a revival of traditional painting styles as they sought to create a modern Japanese style with roots in the past. This decorative hanging scroll honors traditional calligraphy painting with delicate detail and a refined composition, thought to inspire clear and concise thinking. The serene setting depicts a school of silvery ayu, or sweetfish, swimming in a calm body of water beneath a flowering cliffside. A misty horizon is conveyed with a wash of soft blue color and the motion of the current through fluid brushstrokes that outline each wave.

A prized delicacy of Japanese cuisine, ayu is known as a symbol of summer. Like the koi fish, the ayu is a common motif in Japanese art as it’s a fish that’s known to swim upstream, battling rushing currents, rapids and waterfalls. This symbol of perseverance is often associated with children in hopes for their growth and development. Painted on woven silk, the quiet scene is finished with the artist’s mark and set against a blue silk brocade border patterned with blossoms and trailing vines.

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