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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Culture: Japanese
Title: Three Deer
Date: early 20th century
Medium: Two-fold screen: ink and colors on silk
Dimensions: Image: 59 1/2 × 69 inches (151.1 × 175.3 cm); Overall: 67 1/4 × 77 inches (170.8 × 195.6 cm)
Credit Line: George and Mary Rockwell Collection
Object Number: 88.002.206
Label Text: Yamada Koun was born Yamada Isaburo in Kyoto. A Nihonga painter, he studied the Shijo style with Kikuchi Hobun. Nihonga (:Japanese-style painting") was a movement among Japanese artists in the late 19th to mid-20th century who sought to revive and update traditional native painting styles and themes with an infusion of Western techniques. In Kyoto, artists trained in the Maruyama-Shijo school incorporated Western realism such as perspective and shading into Japanese atmospheric paintings. Yamada Koun was a pupil of Kikuchi Hobun (1862-1918), a leading Shijo painter in Kyoto.

Using fine lines and delicate washes, Koun contrasts the soft fur with knobby antler texture, while the animals' keen eyes and delicate hoofs reflect their cautious movements in the forest. Plants are rendered in mineral pigments, with a hint of autumn in the single falling leaf. Seasonal references bring to mind the literary theme of mono no aware (ephemeral beauty), and autumn is the quintessence of that theme.

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.