Japanese Silver Leaf Byobu Screen with Bamboo and Finches

c. 1800
W: 54.0" D: 0.5" H: 60.0"
Rice Paper
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Paper folding screens known as byobu, or "wind walls," were used in Japanese homes to block drafts and partition interiors. Typically quite large, byobu screens provided an opportunity for decoration and were finished with intricate paintings, silk brocade, and precious metal leaf.

This Edo-period Japanese two-panel byobu screen displays a serene landscape of two young bamboo culms against a silver leaf field. Painted with bright pigments of green and pale celadon, the cool-toned bamboo beautifully contrasts the worn patina of the silver backdrop. Two spotted finches flit across the screen, energizing the scene with subtle movement. Wear to the silver leaf finish reveals the screen's underlying wooden construction, adding an unexpected graphic element to the composition.

Minor losses to paper. Original screen backing has been replaced with kraft paper.

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