Oil on canvas, 51 x 66 cm
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, NM 6811
The inspiration which Bruno Liljefors found in Japanese art is particularly clear in a number of his works from the 1880s. Closely cropped compositions, a tall, narrow format, and several paintings mounted in the same frame suggest that Liljefors, like so many other artists of his day, had been influenced by the Japanese colour woodcuts that had become the height of fashion in Paris.
In Jays, 1886, we find another Japanese-inspired feature in a composition which sharply contrasts near and far and which erases the boundary between the picture space and the viewer's space: with Liljefors's choice of viewpoint, the spectator is already in the foreground of the painting. We get the impression that some incident has surprised the birds, and that we are observing the landscape from the same vantage point as the jay that is still perched among the yellow autumn leaves. At the very next moment the second bird will follow the one that has just taken flight and is now gliding towards the distant forest edge.