© Photography: John Tsantes and Neil Greentree © Robert Feinberg
Gallery Text

This resplendent peacock regards the fan of his iridescent tail feathers, so profuse they obscure the moss-studded rocks and luxuriant peonies behind. Gold is used to frame the "eyes" of each of the tail feathers, and delicate gold strands are suspended from the feather shafts. Animated by shifting light conditions, these shimmering surfaces not only draw attention to the lavishness of the materials, but also suggest the dignified bird’s graceful movement. Peacocks are not native to Japan but were imported during the Edo period as exotic curiosities. Ōkyo’s portrayal, realized with Western-style anatomical precision combined with conventional elements of polychrome Chinese bird-and-flower painting, testifies to his great achievement: the synthesis of different painting techniques and aesthetic traditions into a unified approach.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
TL42147.17
People
Maruyama Ōkyo, Japanese (Anafuto, Tamba province 1733 - 1795)
Title
Peacock and Peonies
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting, hanging scroll
Date
1768
Places
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Period
Edo period, 1615-1868
Culture
Japanese
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/20926
Location
Level 3, Room 3500, Special Exhibitions Gallery
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on silk
Dimensions
image only: 135 x 70.6 cm (53 1/8 x 27 13/16 in.)
with mount: 207 x 83.2 cm (81 1/2 x 32 3/4 in.)
display dimensions: 213.4 x 90.5 cm (84 x 35 5/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • seal: top: Ōkyo no in
  • seal: bottom: Chū-sen
  • inscription: Tsuchinoe-ne mōka Ōkyo sha
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Promised gift of Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg
Object Number
TL42147.17
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Kano Hiroyuki, ed., Maruyama Okyo gashu (Kyoto, Japan, 1999), #68, p. 48

Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, Maruyama Okyo : shaseiga sozo e no chosen : tokubetsuten, exh. cat., Mainichi Shinbun Sha. (Tokyo, 2003), #2, p. 24

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, exh. cat., Yomiuri Shinbunsha (Tokyo, 2013), p. 104, cat. 44

Musée Cernuschi, Le Japon au fil des saisons: Collection Robert et Betsy Feinberg, exh. cat., Paris-Musées (Paris, 2014), pp. 82-83

Genevieve Nevejan, Meeting: Betsy and Robert Feinberg, La Gazette Drouot (Paris, January 2016), No. 54, pp. 86-89, p. 87, ill.

Rachel Saunders and Yukio Lippit, Painting Edo: Selections from the Feinberg Collection of Japanese Art, exh. cat. (Cambridge, MA, 2020), cover; p. 72, fig. 60

Exhibition History

Special Exhibtion Maruyama Okyo: Shaseiga - Challenging a New Frontier, Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, 02/03/2004 - 03/21/2004

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, 05/21/2013 - 07/15/2013; Miho Museum, 07/20/2013 - 08/18/2013; Tottori Prefectural Museum, 10/05/2013 - 11/10/2013

32Q: 2600 East Asian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 06/04/2015 - 11/29/2015

Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/14/2020 - 07/26/2020

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This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu