Two-fold Screen

polychrome urushi-e, ink, gold-dusted paper

139 x 164 cm

A two-fold screen depicting a variety of insects caught in a large spider’s web, including butterflies, dragonflies, wasps, a ladybird, and a grasshopper, together with three pine-needles, in polychrome urushie and ink on gold-dusted paper.

This is one of Zeshin’s most ambitious works in urushie, the technique of painting in lacquer directly on paper which he started to use around 1872. Volumes 37 and 39 of the sketched by Zeshin preserved in the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music are devoted to studies of insects.

J. Earle (ed.), Meiji No Takara: Treasures Of Imperial Japan: Masterpieces by Shibata Zeshin, London 1996, cat. 83.