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Watanabe Shikō

(Japanese, 1683-1755)

Pair of six-panel folding screens, ink and color on gilded paper

Overall: 154 x 334.3 cm (60 5/8 x 131 5/8 in.)

Gift of The Norweb Foundation 1954.603


The subject of this painting comes from a 10th-century
text. It tells of a young nobleman’s journey into
the lonely countryside, far from the capital city of
Heian-kyō (Kyoto). There he came upon a small
stream, the banks of which were covered with
blooming irises, on which the artist has chosen to
focus our attention. While viewing the beautiful
flowers the nobleman composed a poem:

I have a beloved wife,
Familiar as the skirt of a well-worn robe,
And so this distant journeying
Fills my heart with grief.

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