Photo © Photography: John Tsantes and Neil Greentree © Robert Feinberg
Gallery Text

This resplendent peacock regards the fan of his iridescent tail feathers, so profuse they obscure the moss-studded rocks and luxuriant peonies behind. Gold is used to frame the "eyes" of each of the tail feathers, and delicate gold strands are suspended from the feather shafts. Animated by shifting light conditions, these shimmering surfaces not only draw attention to the lavishness of the materials, but also suggest the dignified bird’s graceful movement. Peacocks are not native to Japan but were imported during the Edo period as exotic curiosities. Ōkyo’s portrayal, realized with Western-style anatomical precision combined with conventional elements of polychrome Chinese bird-and-flower painting, testifies to his great achievement: the synthesis of different painting techniques and aesthetic traditions into a unified approach.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Maruyama Ōkyo 円山応挙, Japanese (Anafuto, Tamba province 1733 - 1795)
Peacock and Peonies
Work Type
painting, hanging scroll
Creation Place: East Asia, Japan
Edo period, 1615-1868
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on silk
image only: 135 x 70.6 cm (53 1/8 x 27 13/16 in.)
with mount: 207 x 83.2 cm (81 1/2 x 32 3/4 in.)
display dimensions: 213.4 x 90.5 cm (84 x 35 5/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • signature: 戊子孟夏 應舉寫 [Painted by Ōkyo, early summer of the stem year Hoji (tsuchinoe- ne; 1768)]
  • seal: upper; square, intaglio: 應舉之印 [Ōkyo no in]
  • seal: lower; square, intaglio: 仲選 [Chūsen]
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Promised gift of Robert S. and Betsy G. Feinberg
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Publication History

Kano Hiroyuki, ed., Maruyama Okyo gashu (Kyoto, Japan, 1999), #68, p. 48

Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, Maruyama Okyo : shaseiga sozo e no chosen : tokubetsuten, exh. cat., Mainichi Shinbun Sha. (Tokyo, 2003), #2, p. 24

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, exh. cat., Yomiuri Shinbunsha (Tokyo, 2013), p. 104, cat. 44

Musée Cernuschi, Le Japon au fil des saisons: Collection Robert et Betsy Feinberg, exh. cat., Paris-Musées (Paris, 2014), pp. 82-83

Genevieve Nevejan, Meeting: Betsy and Robert Feinberg, La Gazette Drouot (Paris, January 2016), No. 54, pp. 86-89, p. 87, ill.

Rachel Saunders and Yukio Lippit, Painting Edo: Selections from the Feinberg Collection of Japanese Art, exh. cat. (Cambridge, MA, 2020), cover; p. 72, fig. 60

Exhibition History

Special Exhibtion Maruyama Okyo: Shaseiga - Challenging a New Frontier, Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, 02/03/2004 - 03/21/2004

The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection, Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum, 05/21/2013 - 07/15/2013; Miho Museum, 07/20/2013 - 08/18/2013; Tottori Prefectural Museum, 10/05/2013 - 11/10/2013

32Q: 2600 East Asian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 06/04/2015 - 11/29/2015

Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/14/2020 - 06/06/2021

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Related Articles

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at