|Our local cherries started to bloom as early as February.|
Itō Jakuchū worked from 1757 until 1766, on his 30-scroll set of bird-and-flower paintings, which he entitled Colorful Realm of Living Beings. Itō donated the scrolls and the Śākyamuni Triptych, which includes The Buddha Śākyamuni, Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī, and Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, to the Shōkokuji Monastery, where they were displayed during Buddhist ceremonies. The monastery became a popular pilgrimage site because of Itō’s work, which was honored as masterpieces even in his lifetime. In 1889, the Colorful Realm collection was sold to the Imperial Household in order to pay for upkeep of the Monastery, and the scrolls disappeared from regular public display for many decades.
The Colorful Realm remains a cornerstone of the Sannomaru Shōzōkan or Museum of the Imperial Collections, and the Triptych is still owned by the Jōtenkaku Museum at the Shōkokuji Monastery. All thirty-three scrolls are on loan to the National Gallery of Art through the weekend.
|Peonies and Butterflies, c. 1757, ink and color on silk,|
from Colorful Realm of Living Beings, set of 30 vertical hanging scrolls, c. 1757-1766
Courtesy of the Sannomaru Shozokan (The Museum of the Imperial Collections), The Imperial Household Agency
Here is my advice. If you are anywhere near D.C. this weekend, visit Colorful Realm. Yes, there is a catalog, but it can only remind you… not replace… the experience of seeing the paintings for yourself. Even if you plan to visit Japan, you may not have the opportunity to view these scrolls again. The National Gallery has extended its hours: 10 am until 8 pm today and 11 am until 8 pm tomorrow. Admission is free.
These paintings are surprisingly large and incredibly fragile, hence their short time on exhibit, and no photos are allowed. Be forewarned, the scrolls are all displayed in one gallery. It will be crowded! But it is worth it.
|Orchid in the color of cherry blossoms!|
|Beautiful Japanese garden inside the Conservatory at the U.S. Botanic Garden|