Anticipating Spring: Monet, Gallé, Bonnard, and Japanese Paintings

Dec. 15(Sun), 2019 - Apr. 5(Sun), 2020
Exhibition room 2

Artists have depicted nature and the changing seasons since ancient times. The beauty of the four seasons in Japan is an important theme in Japanese art, referred to as setsugetsufuka (snow, moon, wind, flower - meaning the beautiful natural scenery of the four seasons). The transition from winter to spring, the most dramatic one, has been portrayed with many nuances.

There are scenes of leaves falling from trees, cold wind blowing against bare branches and tree trunks, and falling snow, but the most transformed landscapes are those with details eliminated by a cover of snow. Snow scenes were depicted in Japanese medieval picture scrolls and have been a common traditional Japanese art theme since that time. The subject, however, was not widespread in Western art until modern times.
The warmth, young buds and leaves, and colorful flowers of spring, particularly plum, peach, apricot, and cherry blossoms, have been considered auspicious in Japanese painting since ancient times. The features of spring expressed in Western painting tend to include oranges, lemons, and other citrus fruits in addition to flowers.

The diversity of the ‘winter to spring’ seasonal transition theme is illustrated in this exhibition through carefully selected works from the Pola Museum of Art collection of Western paintings, Japanese Western-style paintings, nihonga, and glasswork.


Claude Monet, Sunset on the Seine in Winter, 1880


Maurice Utrillo, La Belle Gabrielle, 1912


Emile Gallé, Vase with Snowscape Design, ca. 1897-1900


Fujishima Takeji, Spring Scene at Shodo-shima, 1936


Pierre Bonnard, Mediterranean Garden, 1917-1918