Noble lady's carriage and a flower cart from Japan, 18th century

<em>Noble lady&rsquo;s carriage and a flower cart</em><br/>
Japan early 18th century <br/>
ink and colour on gold leaf on paper, mounted on a pair of six-panel folding screens <br/>
170.0 x 366.0 cm overall <br/>
Purchased, 1994 (AS13.a-b-1994)<br/>

This pair of screens illustrates the characteristic elegance, stylisation and flat surface design of Japanese art. On the right-hand screen is depicted an aristocrats carriage and flowering poppies, beneath a blossoming cherry tree. On the left screen, a cart carrying a basket of peonies and chrysanthemums, and a cluster of irises is seen under hanging wisteria blossoms. Both vehicles are equipped with long shafts, which in each case are shown resting on a stool. The cherry blossoms and poppies suggest the arrival of spring or early summer, while the peonies, wisteria, irises and chrysanthemums allude to summer and autumn. 

In Japan the progression of seasonal changes is an important element in the appreciation of art and beauty, as it is closely associated with the awareness of the passing of time and the evanescence of nature. 

In China and Japan, the peony (called ‘the King of Flowers’) is the emblem of wealth and of high social status or rank, and the chrysanthemum is the symbol of long life. 

These screens are from the estate of Anne Baxter, a great-niece of the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959), who once owned them. 

Mae Anna Pang