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Irises

Irises

1700s

Part of a set. See all parts

Watanabe Shikō

(Japanese, 1683-1755)

One of a pair of six-panel folding screens, ink and color on gilded paper

Image: 152.8 x 360.4 cm (60 3/16 x 141 7/8 in.); Overall: 164.6 x 372.4 cm (64 13/16 x 146 5/8 in.); Closed: 170.8 x 64.5 x 12 cm (67 1/4 x 25 3/8 x 4 3/4 in.); Panel: 164.8 x 62.1 cm (64 7/8 x 24 7/16 in.); with frame: 168.6 x 376.4 cm (66 3/8 x 148 3/16 in.)

Gift of The Norweb Foundation 1954.603.1

Description

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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