Narihira Viewing the Cherry Blossoms

Narihira Viewing the Cherry Blossoms

late 1800s

Shibata Zeshin 柴田 是真

(Japanese, 1807-1891)

Two-panel folding screen; ink, color, lacquer, and gold on silk

Image: 175.3 x 190.5 cm (69 x 75 in.); Each side: 162.8 x 88.6 cm (64 1/8 x 34 7/8 in.)

Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1981.2



The principal figure, Ariwara no Narihira, sits on a tatami mat, leaning on a wooden shoulder rest of a type frequently shown in classical poet portraits. To his left sit a boy-attendant and an older retainer whose respective roles are to serve sake and food and to provide paper, ink, and brush to Narihira who is contemplating the cherry blossoms across a stream. Narihira is one of Japan's most esteemed poets. Although he died in the 9th century, idealized representations of what he may have looked like continued to be painted into the 19th century.

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