Cho'oku Joki / Birds and Flowers / Muromachi period, late 15th-early 16th centuryCho'oku Joki
Birds and Flowers
Muromachi period, late 15th-early 16th century

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Creator Name: Cho'oku Joki
Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Dates/Places: Active late 15th-early 16th century
Creator Name-CRT: Cho'oku Joki
Title: Birds and Flowers
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1467
Creation End Date: 1533
Creation Date: Muromachi period, late 15th-early 16th century
Creation Place: Japan
Object Type: Paintings
Materials and Techniques: Ink and light color on paper
Parts and Pieces: hanging scroll
Dimensions: 28 3/4 x 13 1/2 in. (73 x 34.3 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.211
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: Chinese-style ink painting, which was first introduced to Japan during the Kamakura period (1185-1333), had a profound impact on the art of the Muromachi period (1392-1568). The history of painting during that period is marked by the spread of Chinese techniques and themes from the temples affiliated with Zen Buddhism--where such works were often used in meditative or ritual practices--to the studios of professional painters who were not necessarily associated with a religious institution and who had various patrons. In the 15th century, ink painting gained a cultural cachet as it moved out of the religious context and acquired a wider audience.

The rise of professional painters during the late 15th and early 16th centuries provided a stimulus for renewed Japanese interest in the academic Chinese tradition of bird-and-flower painting. Some Chinese bird-and-flower paintings were painted in bright colors, while others combined ink and lighter colors. They are noted for their extraordinary realism, in whichintimate scenes from nature are captured with sensitivity and precision. Paintings of this type had been known in Japan as early as the Kamakura period; however, new examples were introduced to Japan in the 15th century as a result of the renewal of official trade between the Ashikaga shoguns and Ming-period China.

This charming painting of Birds and Flowers exemplifies the combination of Chinese and Japanese aesthetics found in Muromachi bird-and-flower painting. The painting depicts two finchlike birds perched on a branch of a fruit tree while a third bird flies above. The chrysanthemums in the background suggest that this scene is autumnal, because this species is often associated with the fall. The combination of modulated brushstrokes and delicate washes in this painting ultimately derives from Song-period Chinese (960-1279) sources. The sense of vitality and the treatment of flowers, leaves, and other details in a flat, patternlike manner characterizes Japanese art during the 15th and 16th centuries.

The inscription at the upper right reads dai Min yushi Cho'oku Joki shu, 'painted by Cho'oku Joki, who traveled [to Japan] from the great Ming [China].' Two artist's seals, one reading Joki and the other Toson, are impressed beneath the signature. A third seal at the bottom left, which was impressed upside down, reads Gyobu Jiro.

As is often the case with Muromachi-period artists, very little is known about Cho'oku Joki. His given name was Tomotada, and his personal name is unknown. In addition to Cho'oku and Joki, he used the artist-name Sogei. He is believed to have painted primarily monochromatic ink landscapes and to have been either a Chinese artist who worked with Sesshu or a Japanese artist who traveled to China.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 95.
Related Document Description: Matsushita, Takaaki. Muromachi Suibokuga (Japanese Ink Paintings of the Muromachi Period). Tokyo: Otsuka Kogeisha, 1960, pp. 68, 124, pl. 67.
Related Document Description: Nakajima, Junji. 'Sozai keishiki shuji e no marobashi: Sesshu kei kachoga byobu yonjiu II' (Study of Flower and Bird Screens by Sesshu and His School II: Trends for Dominance of Formulistic Units in Composition). Museum 205 (April 1958), p. 19.
Related Document Description: Nakamura, Tamo. 'Gan no byoho ni aberu ichi kosatsu: Muromachi chusei ikoga ga ni arareta gan no byoho' (Depiction of Rocks in Japanese Painting in and after the Mid-Muromachi Period). Museum 209 (August 1968), p. 6.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Hong Kong and Singapore: Hong Kong Museum of Art and National Museum Singapore, 1993, pp. 146, 147.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Tokyo: Idemitsu Museum of Arts, 1992, pp. 102, 103, 142.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.211
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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