Flowering Cherries in Art: Blossoming Cherry Trees by Sakai Hōitsu
The Metropolitan Museum of Art notes that Japanese cherries are rarely painted as the sole subject since they are often depicted as allusions to sites (meisho) such as Yoshino, near Nara. Sakai Hōitsu, the painter was known for his generous use of negative space through the expanse of gold leaf. It is interesting to note how the museum fails to indicate another distinction about this Hōitsu painting. Whereas most Japanese paintings often depict Japanese cherries as leafless pink clouds, most likely somei-yoshino, here the flowering tree is depicted with the young spring foliage in auburn. The large pure white flowers and the rich red leaves represent the mountain cherry (Prunus serrulata var. spontanea) or a hybrid. Collingwood Ingram would admire the contrast of the flowers with the dark leaves.