Peacock and Peahen, by Maruyama Okyo

  • Late Edo period
  • 18c
  • Hanging scroll, color on silk
  • H-86.2 W-133.2
Catalogue Entry

by Maruyama Okyo
Edo period, 18th century (dated 1785)
Hanging scroll, color on silk
Height, 86.2cm; width, 133.2cm

Maruyama Okyo (1733-95) was born the son of a farmer in Ano village in Tamba province. Okyo then traveled to Kyoto where he studied Kano school painting methods from Ishida Yutei, went on to study Chinese painting methods, and finally established his own unique painting style.

Okyo's realistic painting techniques are probably best seen not in his landscape paintings, but rather in his bird and flower paintings. Among these bird and flower works images, peacocks seem to have been a particular favorite of Okyo's. The painting of Peacock and Peony (Important Cultural Property), formerly owned by the Enman'in, Shiga prefecture and presently in the Manno Art Museum, is considered his most representative peacock painting, and its expression is at once realistic and immensely gorgeous. Okyo was famous in Kyoto for his peacock paintings and it seems that he received commissions for this subject from both within and outside of Kyoto. The present work was most likely commissioned thanks to this fame, and this commission probably came from a regional area outside of Kyoto. We can infer the regional nature of this commission from Okyo's careful addition of the term "Heian," the former name of Kyoto, to his signature on this painting. HK