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Scenes from the Tale of Genji

Scenes from the Tale of Genji


late 1700s

Part of a set. See all set records

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

Image: 154.4 x 351.2 cm (60 13/16 x 138 1/4 in.)

Gift of William G. Mather 1948.124



Folding screens served as temporary dividers in traditional Japanese open-plan architectural spaces. This pair was inspired by Japan’s most celebrated work of literature, the Tale of Genji, written by Murasaki Shikibu, an attendant to the empress in the early 11th-century imperial court. The novel follows the love life of the “Shining Prince” Genji and delves into the psychological states of his many companions. Distinct episodes are nestled within a matrix of golden clouds and landscape elements. Each screen includes six episodes presented in a nonlinear fashion, capturing scattered highlights of the story.

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