The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of January 21, 2017

Irises, 1700s

pair of six-fold screens, ink and color on gilded paper, Image: 152.80 x 360.40 cm (60 1/8 x 141 7/8 inches); Overall: 164.60 x 372.40 cm (64 3/4 x 146 9/16 inches); Closed: 170.80 x 64.50 x 12.00 cm (67 3/16 x 25 3/8 x 4 11/16 inches); Panel: 164.80 x 62.10 cm (64 7/8 x 24 7/16 inches); with frame: 168.60 x 37. Gift of The Norweb Foundation 1954.603.1

These lush paintings reference one of the most frequently depicted episodes from classical Japanese
literature: the "Yatsuhashi" (Eight Bridges) chapter from The Tales of Ise, a 10th-century collection
of lyric narratives loosely relating the frequently amorous adventures of the courtier Arawara no
Narihira. Here, Narihira and fellow courtiers travel from Kyoto, stopping at a site near present-day
Nagoya where eight planked bridges span streams running through a moor. Pausing for the evening,
they dine on simple balls of dried rice moistened by their tears, as they long for loved ones at home.
Lee found the tension produced by the extreme understatement of narrative particularly attractive.
He likened the irises to musical notations making a "nervous and sprightly pattern against the gold."

signed and sealed lower left of the first panel from the left.

Chiba, Japan. Chiba City Museum of Art. October 1-November 1996. "The Legacy of Japanese Art" cat. no. 153, p. 184.
The Cleveland Museum of Art; 7/15/01-8/12/01 (1st of 2 rotations). "Unfolding Beauty: Japanese Screens from the Cleveland Museum of Art."
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan (8/21/2004 - 10/3/2004): "Rimpa"

The Cleveland Museum of Art (06/28/2009 - 08/30/2009): "Streams and Mountains Without End: Asian Art and the Legacy of Sherman E. Lee at the Cleveland Museum of Art"

Cleveland Museum of Art (organizer). Tokyo National Museum (1/15/2014 - 2/23/2014) and Kyushu National Museum (7/8/2014 - 8/31/2014): "Admired from Afar: Masterworks of Japanese Painting from the Cleveland Museum of Art", cat. no. 41, p. 122-123.

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