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White Plum Blossoms and Moon by Ito Jakuchu

White Plum Blossoms and Moon, 1755

Ito Jakuchu

A pale full moon is masked by an exuberant night-blooming plum tree. Delicate white blossoms dance like stars against a subdued background, bringing life to gnarled, twisted branches — apt symbols of spring and winter, youth and old age. Each individual blossom contains an elegant spray of yellow, and brown-red stems and blue-green leaves also add a subtle film of color to the scene. The artist depicts his dreamlike subject — a plum tree bursting into bloom in the luminous stillness of night — with the balance and harmony typical of Japanese landscape paintings, but uses color and textural contrasts to achieve a three-dimensional sensibility on a flat scroll.

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