About This Artwork

Reizei Tamechika
Japanese, 1823-1864

Twelve Poetic Immortals and Their Poems, 1850

Pair of six-panel screens; ink, colors, and gold on paper
84 x 315 cm

Kato Real Estate Fund, 1990.197.1-2

屏風の12扇には、三十六歌仙の内の十二人の肖像が金地に描かれている。御所の公式行事でのごとく盛装しており、女性は十二単をまとい、男性は束帯や狩衣と烏帽子などを着用している。歌人の上には詠んだ和歌が達筆な書で記されている。女性の歌仙が多く描かれていることから、この屏風は、婦人の室内用に注文されたものと思われる。

為恭は、復古大和絵派の画家の中で、古典的な絵画の復興に、最も熱意を燃やした人物であった。技法を、数百年前の原画を丹念に模写することで習得し、さらに、宮廷の生活、儀式、衣裳の詳しい知識を独学で身につけた。 この絵の完成二ヶ月前に、長年希望していた官位を受けている。

幕末の騒乱期、為恭は、絵画の習得のため、幕府要人宅を訪問するところを見咎められ、後に尊皇派に追われ、42歳で暗殺された。

On each of twelve panels of this pair of screens, the figure of a revered poet from Japan’s classical age is seated, set against a solid gold ground. Attired as if in a formal courtly setting, the women wear the many-layered kimono of the aristocracy of the Heian period (794-1185), while the men sport clothing and lacquered hats of various court ranks. Above each poet is a waka verse that he or she composed, brushed in masterful calligraphy of a general style contemporary with the poet’s lifetime. The relatively large number of female poets depicted may indicate that the screens were commissioned for use in women’s quarters.

Tamechika was perhaps the most earnest of the fukko yamato-e artists who revived classical Japanese painting. Learning this technique required painstaking copying of original, centuries-old works. To this, Tamechika added an extraordinary, self-taught knowledge of court life, ceremonies, and dress. Just two months before this painting was done, Tamechika attained his long-held desire of receiving a court rank himself.

On the brink of Japan’s imperial restoration, Tamechika was seen visiting the home of a top shogunal official where he was studying works of art, and ironically, was later tracked down and assassinated, at the age of 42, by proimperialists.

Rotation 1: June 26-August 9, 2009




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