Two pheasants perch on a rock by a stream with lush peonies and bamboo rising above, comfortable in the lush, naturalistic setting. The artist’s superlative technique is clearly evident as is a sure sense of effective composition and design. The usual polychromatic beauty of pheasants and the blossoms around, along with their significance as symbols of refinement and achievement, is hidden beneath this winning performance of ink alone.
Yamamoto Baiitsu (1783-1856) was born in Nagoya, where he learned the styles and techniques of Chinese painting through study of the collection of Kamiya Ten’yu, a wealthy collector, who also introduced the young painter to the traditions and values of the literati. In 1803, in company of his close friend, the artist and scholar Nakabayashi Chikuto (1776-1853), Baiitsu moved to live and work in Kyoto. A prolific painter and major master of the Nanga school of painting, Baiitsu returned to Nagoya in 1854 and worked for the Owari clan, the Nagoya branch of the ruling Tokugawa clan.