"National Treasure Gallery: Pine Trees"
Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 2 January 2, 2017 (Mon) - January 15, 2017 (Sun)
Pine Trees (detail), By Hasegawa Tohaku, Azuchi-Momoyama period, 16th century (National Treasure)
A scene of wind and light has been created using only gradations of ink on white paper. When seen up close, the forceful brushstrokes of the pine needles overwhelm the viewer. The utensils used to depict the pines may have included multiple brushes connected together, a bamboo stick with a finely split end, or a bundle of rice straw. The lines are applied delicately yet without hesitation. Seen from a distance, the tree trunks appear to sway in the wind as though performing a Noh dance.
The pines comprise four main groups and are arranged in a way that suggests the wind blowing through them. Different intensities of light are expressed through ink gradations, giving life to this misty pine grove. Various techniques and visual devices were used to portray this grove, where a gentle light shines through the gaps in the mist, snowy mountains appear in the distance, and cold, moist air pervades the scene. Together with the effect of the glossy ink, it is as though the viewer can feel the breeze and perceive a refreshing scent from the pines.
The painter, Hasegawa Tohaku (1539–1610), depicted this traditional Japanese motif with Chinese ink painting techniques while skillfully expressing the richness of Japan’s natural features.
Pine Trees, By Hasegawa Tohaku, Azuchi-Momoyama period, 16th century (National Treasure)