• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2028

    Japanese & Korean Art

    18 September 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 249

    Tosa Mitsusada (1738-1806)

    Scenes from The Tale of Genji

    Price Realised  


    Tosa Mitsusada (1738-1806)
    Scenes from The Tale of Genji
    Each signed Edokoro azukari juyon'ijo Tosa no kami Fujiwara Mitsusada, each sealed Mitusada no in
    Pair of six-panel screens; ink, color and gold leaf on paper
    62 1/8 x 139in. (158 x 353cm.) each (2)

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Mitsusada was the second son of Tosa Mitsuyoshi (see lot 198), and was appointed official painter (edokoro azukari) in 1754.

    Six scenes, or chapters, from The Tale of Genji are gracefully arranged on each screen, separated by bands of mist or cloud in the form of gold leaf, but with clever incorporation of rivers and seas as additional scene dividers. The diagonal lines of the architecture pull the eye from right to left.

    Chapter 1 (The Paulownia Court/Kiritsubo) appears at the upper right of the right screen, as usual. Immediately below is Chapter 3 (The Shell of the Locust/Utsusemi), where Genji spies on two girls playing Go. At bottom center is Chapter 7 (An Autumn Excursion/Momiji no Ga), where Genji and his friend To no Chujo perform a dance beneath crimson maple leaves. At top center is Chapter 10 (The Sacred Tree/Sakaki), with Genji visiting Lady Rokujo in the suburbs of Kyoto. In the lower left corner we find Chapter 12 (The Jeweled Chaplet/Tamakazura), where Genji examines and distributes fine garments to the ladies of his household. Chapter 14 (Channel Buoys/Miotsukushi) is at the top left. Here, Genji makes a pilgrimage to Sumiyoshi Shrine on the Inland Sea, and the Akashi Lady appears in her boat.

    On the second screen, Genji, who is in exile in the provinces, looks out over the Inland Sea in a famous scene from Chapter 12 (Suma). Immediately below is the boating scene and butterfly dance from Chapter 24 (Butterflies /Kocho). At bottom center is Chapter 17 (A Picture Contest/E-awase). The scene at top center (fourth panel from the right) is unclear, but might represent Chapter 19 (A Rack of Cloud/Usugumo). Chapter 9 (Heartvine/Aoi) is in the upper left corner. Genji trims Murasaki's hair while she stands on a Go game board. In the bottom left corner we see the next generation, from a late chapter in the tale, represented by Kaoru, who has been invited to play a game of Go with the emperor. As a prize for winning the game, the emperor invites Kaoru to break off a chrysanthemum in the garden.