Folding Screen of Pine Trees (松林図屏風)
"Pine Trees" is an ink painting on a pair of six-folded screens, and Tohaku HASEGAWA's best known work. It is the finest Japanese ink painting and is a masterpiece that is representative of Japanese art. It is a National Treasure. It is part of the collection at the Tokyo National Museum.
When Tohaku HASEGAWA completed the wall painting formerly at Shoun-ji Temple (currently the painting on the fusuma sliding doors at the Chishakuin Temple), his son Kyuzo died young at the age of 26. It is said that Tohaku HASEGAWA created "Pine Trees" while feeling grief for his son's death. The style of painting trees indicates the influence of Mokkei whom Tohaku secretly respected as a mentor, but he completely absorbed this technique as a part of his unique style of painting, rather than merely imitating his mentor. On the seashore of the Noto Peninsula, Tohaku's birthplace, the pine trees are still standing as drawn in this picture. This ink painting, full of Japanese sensitivity, must be the fruit of the combination of the scenery of Tohaku's birthplace still in his mind and the technique of Mokkei.
The misaligned seams of the paper between the two right panels and the four left panels on the right screen and between the three right panels and the three left panels on the left screen suggest that the paper was meant for drafts. If the seams were to be aligned, the composition would form a gentle triangle starting from the mountain on the top of the first right panel on the left screen, to the signatures and seals placed to the right on both edges along the extension of the slopes.
It was relatively recently, in 1932, when this painting became famous. Immediately after that, it was designated as a National Treasure, indicating the huge impact that the excellent quality of this work had. A close replica of "Pine Trees" was found in 1997 and it was assumed that a painter who was very close to Tohaku imitated the masterpiece.