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In Japanese art, the calls of quail, like the cries of deer, are particularly associated with autumn, withered desolation, and melancholic reflections on the evanescence of life. Yet, poetry has fostered the discovery of beauty within that desolation.
The lines of poetry at the top echo the pattern of the bending leaves and dangling ripened heads of millet. The poet describes hearing the cries of quails carried by mountain breezes as he looks out over dew-covered autumn fields.
Mitsunari succeeded his father, Mitsuoki, as official painter to the imperial court and, also like his father, specialized in the painting of quails.