Untitled (Diving Bird)

Creator: Ohara Koson
Culture: Japanese
Title: Untitled (Diving Bird)
Work Type: Color woodcut
Date: Unknown
Size: 35 x 19 cm
Repository: Wetmore Print Collection, Art History Dept, Cummings Arts Center, Connecticut College, New London
Donated by Prof. Caroline Black, Botany Dept, Connecticut College
Source: https://library.artstor.org/#/asset/CONNASIAN_106310758424

This untitled Ohara Koson print, depicting a bird paired with the dropping leaves of a plant, is an example of Koson’s many ‘kachō-e’ (花鳥絵) or ‘kachō-ga’ (花鳥画) prints—an important genre of Japanese art that can be translated literally into ‘bird and flower picture.’ This work in particular draws the viewer’s attention solely to the main subjects of the genre, the only background element being a slight orange gradient at the top of the print, with patches of lighter gradients further down. The main focal point is the bird, depicted mid-action and featuring the widest variety of color in the scene (a dull orange, red, and blue). The bird dives down, perhaps toward the water, while the hanging foliage of the plant seem to emphasize the bird’s downward motion. While the feathers of the bird are textured, the leaves of the plant are painted with a flat color—this, again, helps to draw a viewer’s eye to the bird.

Author: Hana Tanabe

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