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Tosa School (17th Century)*
Scenes from the Tale of Genji
Six-panel screen, ink, color and gold leaf on paper
59 x 119in. (151 x 350cm.)
Avery Brundage

Lot Essay

Fall and winter scenes from the Tale of Genji are painted in a style closely related to Tosa Mitsuyoshi (1539-1613). Most of the painting is given over to a depiction of the scene of the royal excursion to the Suzaku Palace in the tenth month, an episode from Chapter 7, "An Autumn Excursion" or "Momiji no Ga." The emperor is discreetly hidden from view behind bamboo blinds. Attended by his courtiers, he has come to hear virtuoso musicians perform and to watch the young Prince Genji and his friend To no Chujo (in the third panel from the right) dance "Waves of the Blue Ocean." Of special interest is the fashionably contemporary clothing worn by the female spectators and their young attendants.

In Chapter 51, "Ukifune" or "A Boat upon the Waters," the artist selected the iconic image of Prince Niou and the tragic heroine Ukifune crossing the Uji River by moonlight on a wintry night. While earlier artists cropped the scene to show only the two young lovers in the prow of the little boat, Mitsuyoshi and his followers added narrative detail, in this case including the boatman and even a folding screen that shields the lovers from the gaze of the boatman.

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