We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Quails and pampas grass

18th century


Tosa School


  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Edo (Tokugawa) period 1615 - 1868 → Japan
    18th century
    Media categories
    Screen , Painting
    Materials used
    single six-panel screen; ink and colour on gold ground
    110.0 x 186.0 cm
    Anonymous gift 2007
    South Building, lower level 1, Asian Lantern galleries
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Tosa School

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The relatively small six-fold screen shows two quails crouching on the ground amidst a field of pampas grass while a third bird is flying towards them. It is probably the left part of a pair of six-fold screens. Depiction of quails and pampas grass is a classical theme of the indigenous Japanese painting style, 'Yamato-e'. Often depicted by artists of the Tosa school, who catered for the sophisticated taste of the court aristocracy, the scene of quails in a pampas grass field evokes the poetic atmosphere of the autumnal season.

    Judging from the careful brushwork, the dynamism in rendering the grass blades under the autumn breeze, the outstanding observation of nature as revealed in the naturalistic rendering of the quails as well as in the subtle use of pigment, this unsigned work was executed by an able artist of the Tosa school in the 18th c. The relative modest size of the screen and the rather simple execution of the metal fittings on the lacquer frame suggest that it was made for a patron who was well-versed in classical studies and possessed a high sense for aesthetics, but who wasn't wealthy.

    Asian Art Department, AGNSW, August 2007.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

    • Elemental, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Jul 2022–2024

  • Provenance

    Patricia Withofs, Aug 2007, Australia, donated to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, August 2007.

Other works by Tosa School