Cockatoo & Pomegranate Woodblock Print

Title: Cockatoo & Pomegranate
Artist: Shoson
Date: 1927
Size: 37 x 23 cm
Material: Ink on paper
Repository: Wetmore Print Collection, Art History Dept, Cummings Arts Center, Connecticut College, New LondonDonated by Prof. Caroline Black, Botany Dept, Connecticut College
Accession Number: black 013

Description: This woodblock print depicts a white Cockatoo perched on a branch with descending leaves and an opened pomegranate. The image is set against a solid black background, and the bottom right corner features the artist’s signature, and the seal of the workshop were it was produced. In this print, bold color is used as a way to highlight the delicate details and beauty of nature. The black background creates strong contrast with the white bird at the center, drawing the viewer’s attention to the intricate feather details on the bird’s body. Additionally, the scarlet shade of the pomegranate contrasts with both the black background and the white bird, highlighting the fruit as a beautiful gift of nature. Using bold solid colors and three-dimensional details together, Shoson creates an intimate and delightful image that celebrates the natural world.

Pomegranate and feather details

Analysis: While Shoson’s woodblock print was completed in 1927, his piece was clearly inspired by earlier forms of Japanese art that celebrated the beauty of nature. Images of animals depicted with flowers or trees were a common motif that encapsulated the spirit of nature and the beauty of the changing of the seasons. Peaceful images of animals in nature could be found on decorative screens, for example, the work by Kano Eitoku, Kyoto 1566. Similar to the Buddhist-inspired screen paintings from the Edo period, Shoson uses a simple contrast between black and white ink. However, he departs from the monotone depictions of animals seen in Eitoku’s work by adding the bright red pomegranates on the branch. Shoson takes inspiration from the high-contrast images of Buddhist screen paintings while adding a modern twist with a pop of color.

Connecticut College:
Connecticut College Japanese Prints Collections inventory:

Author: Lucy Buchanan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *