Art Kaleidoscope

Between art and craft

Bird-and-flower painting by Ohara Koson

Two sparrows. Woodblock print by Ohara Koson

Two sparrows. Bird-and-flower painting by Ohara Koson

“Bird-and-flower painting” is a genre of Japanese prints with images of birds and flowers. Ohara Koson (1878-1845) is one of the most famous artists in the genre of “Bird-and-flower painting” of the twentieth century. Koson was born in Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture in northern Japan. His real name Ohara Mata. During his career he changed his name several times: Koson, Shoson, Hosono – They are all the names of the same artist.

A crow and blossom. Bird-and-flower painting by Ohara Koson

A crow and blossom. Bird-and-flower painting by Ohara Koson

Originally Koson worked in the genre of “Ukiyo-e”. He has produced many engravings on the theme of Russian-Japanese War (1904-1905). This was not unusual, whereas almost all the artists of the genre Ukiyo-e illustrate the Sino-Japanese and Russian-Japanese war. But soon this art became out of fashion. It was replaced by the photography and became the main way to illustrate the events.

Bird on a blooming sakura

Bird on a blooming sakura

Ohara Koson’s work practically ceased to be sold, he gave up painting and his only source of income was teaching at the School of Fine Arts in Tokyo. In 1926, a colleague of Koson, American Fenellos Ernest, a big fan of traditional Japanese painting, who was then curator of Japanese art at the Boston Museum, convinced him to return to work.

Butterfly on a flower

Butterfly on a flower. Bird-and-flower painting by Ohara Koson

Koson returned to painting, but now he only worked in the genre of “Bird-and-flower painting”. While the Japanese were little interested in the traditional painting and almost all the work of Koson were sold in the United States. Over a lifetime, the master has created about 450 prints. Ohara Koson died in 1945 at the age of sixty-eight.

Duck and drake

Duck and drake. Bird-and-flower painting by Ohara Koson

Eagle having caught a sparrow

Eagle having caught a sparrow

Five cranes

Five cranes. Bird-and-flower painting by Ohara Koson

Goose on the snow

Goose on the snow

Monkey on a branch

Monkey on a branch

Monkey on bamboo

Monkey on bamboo

Owl on a branch

Owl on a branch. Bird-and-flower painting by Ohara Koson

Peacock on a pine tree

Peacock on a pine tree

Quail over the forest

Quail over the forest. Bird-and-flower painting by Ohara Koson

Snail on bamboo leaves

Snail on bamboo leaves

Three mice

Three mice

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