Screen paintings of whale and elephant by Itō Jakuchū

A pair of folding screens by a Japanese painter, Itō Jakuchū (伊藤若冲; 1716-1800), was found in a private home in Kanazawa city. Itō Jakuchū's paintings usually depict animals, birds and plants in bold composition. Like his other works, the newly-found screens uniquely contrast a black whale spouting water on the left-side screen and a white elephant sitting on the beach on the right-side screen.

The design of the newly-found screens is similar to a Jakuchu's missing work.

Folding screens in the above photograph were listed in an auction catalogue of Osaka Art Club (大阪美術倶楽部) issued in 1928. Notice that, whereas the tail of the elephant and the plants over the back of the elephant are drawn on the newly-found screen, they are missing on the one in the old auction catalogue. According to the catalogue, the screens had been owned by Baron Kawasaki in Kobe, Hyogo prefecture. They were knocked down to an anonymous person for 3,100 yen, which roughly corresponds to present five million yen, or 50,000 US dollars. After the auction, no one but the unknown owner has seen the screens.

According to Yomiuri Online, the pair of the newly-found screens has signatures saying: "Painted by Beito-ou, 82 years old (米斗翁八十二歳画)"; Beito-ou (Uncle Beito) was a Jakuchū's pseudonym that he used in his last years. Perhaps, in the last years of his life, he painted again the composition of the black whale and white elephant that he had once painted.

The followings are some of other Jakuchu's works for your eyes' pleasure.