Landscape of the Four Seasons


Landscape of the Four Seasons

Paintings / Muromachi

Attributed to Shūbun

Muromachi period, 15th century

Ink and light color on paper



Important Cultural Property

A scene of spring changing to summer unfurls across the screen to your right. Water formed by melted snow flows down a mountain on the right, while willow trees bloom thickly on the left. In the distance, some people are watching fishermen fish while enjoying the cool air.
On the screen to your left, autumn elides into winter from right to left. A flock of wild geese has taken flight toward the center, while snow-covered mountains soar up on the left.
The painting is attributed to Shubun, a Zen priest active during the middle of the Muromachi period, though it may have been painted at a later date by another painter. Works depicting the changing seasons were known as Landscapes of the Four Seasons, but this work is thought to be based on another theme: The Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers.
Landscape paintings featuring motifs from the Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang were popular during the Muromachi period. Xiaoxiang is the name given to the region where the rivers Xiao and Xiang merge at Lake Dongting in China's Hunan province. Paintings depicting eight scenes from this region are known as the Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang.
The eight views are: Sanshi Seiran (Mountain Village After a Storm); Enpo Kihan (Returning Sails Off a Distant Shore); Gyoson Sekisho (Fishing Village in the Sunset Glow); Enji Bansho (Evening Bell From a Distant Temple); Shosho Yau (Night Rain Over the Xiao and Xiang); Dotei Shugetsu (Autumn Moon Over Lake Dongting); Heisa Rakugan (Wild Geese Descending to a Sandbar); and Koten Bosetsu (River and Sky in Evening Snow).
Though this work certainly seems based on the Eight Views, we cannot say for certain. Using the seasons, times and weather as clues, see if you can find any of the Eight Views hidden here.

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