Title: Bird and Blossoms (TGF Catalogue No. 425.13443)

Gallery Location: Portland 

Artist: Unknown

Ca. 1740

Ink, silk

All that is known for certain about this piece is that it was produced during the Middle Edo Period in Imperial Japan. While some scholars have ascribed the work to Kano Tan’yu, its current dating suggests a later artist. Nonetheless, the style is consistent with the vivid color and dreamlike quality of work by Tan’yu. The red object in the mouth of the bird (believed to be a lark), has stirred debate for centuries. Some claim it was originally meant to be a branch, but that over time the red pigments of the once-brown ink have saturated the silk. Others, like art historian Martin Engleworth, claim that it is a piece from a board game popular with the Edo court.