Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Poet Mibu no Tadamine, from a set of album leaves illustrating The Thirty-six Poetic Immortals

Iwasa Matabei (Japanese, 1578–1650)
Edo period (1615–1868)
early 17th century
Hanging scroll; ink, color, gold and silver on paper
Image: 11 1/4 × 12 3/4 in. (28.6 × 32.4 cm); Overall with mounting: 47 3/4 × 16 5/8 in. (121.3 × 42.2 cm); Overall with knobs: 47 3/4 × 18 3/4 in. (121.3 × 47.6 cm)
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:
Not on view
For the Japanese elite, poetry was the quintessential literary experience. Idealized and deeply admired, poets were often commemorated in portraiture. In the early eleventh century, Fujiwara Kintō (966–1041) selected thirty-six "immortal" poets from the past, and their images became a popular theme in the yamato-e painting tradition. This picture, originally part of a set of album leaves of the thirty-six poets, is attributed to Iwasa Matabei (1578–1650), a renowned painter who is often credited with originating ukiyo-e genre painting. Portrayed is the poet Mibu no Tadamine (act. ca. 910), accompanied by his famous poem of spring:

Is it just because
They say this is the day which
The coming of spring that the
Of fair Yoshino are veiled this morning in haze?

—trans. Robert H. Brower and Earl Miner, Japanese Court Poetry (Stanford University Press, 1961)
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