Scenes from the Tale of Genji
On View: Asian Galleries, North, 2nd floor (Japan)
This pair of screens depicts multiple episodes from the eleventh-century novel The Tale of Genji. Though shown out of order, the episodes were so well known that they would have been recognizable to the screens’ viewers. The scenes are divided by golden clouds, a convention used often in Japanese narrative imagery but particularly popular for Genji illustrations. Also typical is the aerial view into interior spaces, as if they had no roofs.
In the right-hand screen, the novel’s protagonist, Prince Genji, wears chrysanthemums in his hair as he performs an autumn dance with a friend in a palace courtyard. At the lower right, they are watched from behind a window screen by a female admirer. At the top right of the left-hand screen, Genji (in red) catches sight of a young girl—Murasaki, whom he will marry one day—as she runs out on a veranda in pursuit of a bird. At the upper left of this screen, Genji (this time in blue gray) spies on a different woman as she plays the board game go.
Pair of six-fold screens, ink and colors on gold leaf
early 17th century
45 1/2 x 68 1/2 in. (115.6 x 174 cm)
Image (outer panel): 61 3/4 x 21 3/4 in. (156.8 x 55.2 cm)
Image (inner panel): 61 3/4 x 24 1/4 in. (156.8 x 61.6 cm) (show scale)
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Scenes from the Tale of Genji, early 17th century. Pair of six-fold screens, ink and colors on gold leaf, 45 1/2 x 68 1/2 in. (115.6 x 174 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Anonymous gift, 77.140a-b. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 77.140a_bw.jpg)
overall, 77.140a_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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