In an unprecedented display outside of Japan, the National Gallery of Art is presenting 30 scrolls of paintings by Ito Jakuchu next spring.
“Colorful Realm of Living Beings,” a historic collection of scrolls depicting birds and flowers on silk, will be shown at the gallery March 20 through April 27, the gallery announced late Thursday. Considered a cultural treasure in Japan, the paintings will be part of a larger exhibition devoted to the work of Jakuchu. The scrolls are a rare loan from the Imperial Household.
The agreement to show the delicate scrolls coincides with the centennial of the gift of 3,000 cherry trees to Washington from Japan and the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
The scrolls are considered the greatest work of bird and flower painting in Japan’s history and offer insights into the Japanese culture of nature and art.
The show evolved from a conversation with Ambassador of Japan Ichiro Fujisaki, said Earl A. Powell III, the National Gallery director. “We talked about the 100th anniversary, the Imperial Collection and what related to horticulture. And we thought this would be an interesting pairing. ‘Color Realm’ will be an utterly unique presentation. They are very sporadically displayed in Japan.”