Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Japanese Art at LACMA: Celebrating 10 Years of the Japanese Art Acquisitions Group
Dec. 24, 2016 – May 7, 2017
Pavilion for Japanese Art
Lord Tokugawa Nariaki
Japan, 1800 – 1868
Snow, Moon, Flower Calligraphy, c 1840 – 60
Set of three hanging scrolls, ink and pigment on paper
Gift of the 2008 Japanese Art Acquisitions Group
This calligraphy triptych bears the character for “snow” on the right scroll, “moon” on the central scroll, and “flower” on the left scroll. “Setsugetsuka” (snow, moon, flower) is a timeless Japanese poetic phrase symbolizing three of the four seasons (winter, autumn, and spring). Here each character is written in black ink, in archaic Chinese style and on a massive scale. The background of each scroll includes a classic Japanese poem known as a waka written in gold pigment. Each poem celebrates the season symbolized by the giant character.
The artist, Tokugawa Nariaki, is a celebrated historical figure who was the daimyo (feudal lord) of the Mito clan of the ruling Tokugawa family. Fifteen successive generations of the Tokugawa family ruled Japan during the Edo or Tokugawa period (1615 – 1868). The legendary Tokugawa mistuba-aoi (hollyhock) crest not only appears as repeated motif in the silk brocade surrounding each giant character, but is also painted in gold lacquer on the end of each original ivory knob.