Artist: Koson Ohara (1877-1945)
Title: Two Copper Pheasants in the Snow
Date: Early 20th century
Dimensions: 17.5 x 33.9 cm
Condition: Minor brown marks on top, bottom and left edges. Trimmed.
Ohara Koson was one of great print makers of the 20th century, best known for his kacho-e, prints of flowers and birds. Koson’s prints after 1926 have much brighter colours than his early works, perhaps because they were aimed at the Western market. In 1930 and 1936, his prints were displayed at the Toledo exhibition. His kacho-e prints are considered among the best depictions of birds created in twentieth century Japan. The body details, feathers in particular, were all done with meticulous care. This print shows two Japanese copper pheasants wandering in a snow covered landscape. In Shinto mythology, the pheasant serves as a divine messenger for the sun goddess Amaterasu. This species of pheasant in particular is mentioned by the poet Kakinomoto no Hitomaro in an 8th century poetry collection, Hyakunin Isshu:
Must I sleep alone through the long autumn nights, long like the dragging tail of the mountain pheasant separated from his dove?