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Thirty-Six Poetic Immortals

Thirty-Six Poetic Immortals

三十六歌仙図屏風

mid 1700s

attributed to Tatebayashi Kagei 立林何帠

(Japanese, active mid-1700s)

Two-fold screen; ink, color, and gold on paper

Image: 170 x 182.8 cm (66 15/16 x 71 15/16 in.); Overall: 174.4 x 187.2 cm (68 11/16 x 73 11/16 in.); Closed: 94 x 4 cm (37 x 1 9/16 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1960.183

Location

Did you know?

The green surface edged with stripes at the upper left of the painting represents tatami matting with a silk border.

Description

Fujiwara no Kintō (996–1075), a Japanese courtier, scholar, and poet, compiled select examples by the most celebrated composers of 31-syllable poems (waka) from the 600s to the 1000s. Painters soon made these “thirty-six poetic immortals” a favorite subject, traditionally presenting the poets in sequential, idealized portraits paired with their poems. In this interpretation, a chronologically impossible gathering of these great talents is in progress. The screen’s composition follows one devised by design virtuoso Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716).

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