The Tale of Genji

A work made of pair of six-panel screens; ink, colors, and gold on paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of pair of six-panel screens; ink, colors, and gold on paper.

Date:

early 17th century

Artist:

Artist Unknown
Japanese

About this artwork

この一双の屏風は、『源氏物語』54帖より、好みで選ばれた場面が描かれており、その5つの場面は、それぞれ時間的に隔たっているにもかかわらず、まるで一連の景観に描かれている。右隻の右半分には、赤子の光源氏を、父の帝が初めてご覧になっている場面、左隻の左下半分には、女房たちがどの季節が最も美しいか論じ合っている場面、同隻の右上半分には、源氏が最愛の女性・紫の上と手あぶりを前に、親密なひとときを過ごしている場面が描かれている。

それぞれが、人物たちの幸福な瞬間が捉えられていることから、恐らく、この屏風は、女性の婚礼道具として描かれ、婚家へもたらされたのであろう。このような装飾的な屏風は、衣服、蒔絵の化粧道具や遊び道具などの女性の様々な豪華な手回り道具の重要な一品目であった。

この作品における人物・風景の表現は、狩野派の特徴にあたる。恐らく、狩野派の源氏の屏風絵の中で初期に位置するものであろう。

This pair of folding screens depicts a few favorite moments from the 11th-century Tale of Genji, written by the court lady Murasaki Shikibu. Though they take place at disparate times in the story, the five episodes selected from the novel’s fifty-four chapters are set in one continuous landscape. Among these scenes is one on the far right showing the baby Genji being presented to his father, the emperor, for the first time. Across the bottom of left screen, court ladies argue which season is the most beautiful. Above, in the upper right corner, Genji and his love, Lady Murasaki, share an intimate moment in front of a charcoal brazier.

Each scene was seemingly chosen for its felicitous overtones. The overall character of the pair suggest that they were painted to be part of a bride’s wedding trousseau, and would therefore accompany her to her new home. Lavishly decorated folding screens made up an important part of such collections, which included kimono, lacquer toiletry sets, games, and other luxury items.

The figural style and landscape are reminiscent of the Kano school of painters. Tale of Genji screens attributed to artists of this school are the earliest-known screens to depict the story.

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Asian Art

Title

The Tale of Genji

Origin

Japan

Date

1601–1625

Medium

Pair of six-panel screens; ink, colors, and gold on paper

Dimensions

166 x 371 cm each

Credit Line

Gift of Robert Allerton in honor of Mr. & Mrs. William McCormick Blair's fiftieth wedding anniversary

Reference Number

1962.574-1962.575

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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