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Bugaku Dances

Hanabusa Itchō (Japanese, 1652–1724)

Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
early 18th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink and color on gilt paper
Dimensions:
Image (each screen): 72 1/8 in. x 14 ft. 9 5/8 in. (183.2 x 451.2 cm)
Classification:
Screens
Credit Line:
The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975
Accession Number:
1975.268.57, .58
  • Description

    Illustrated scrolls recording the costumes and gestures of ancient court dances inspired the popular Edo theme drawn from the colorful, exotic bugaku repertory—one of the many appropriations of older, classic imagery that provided a rich source for the bold design innovations of late seventeenth- and early eighteenthcentury Japanese artists.

    Hanabusa Itchō, the son of a samurai physician, had his early training with Kano Yasunobu (1613–1685). Like his contemporary Kusumi Morikage (ca. 1620–1690), he soon left the world of academic painting and became known for his direct, simplifying style. Within the Edo circle of haiku poets and artists, he was a colorful personality resented by the Tokugawa shogunate; he was even exiled for a few years to Miyake-jima, off the Izu coast southeast of the capital.

    The spatial play of figures on the gold surface, a dance within and against the surface plane, is particularly effective in this work, painted in Itchō's later years.

  • See also
    Who
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    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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