H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Not on view
Imaginary portraits and legends about the life of Prince Shōtoku (574?–622), the champion of Japanese Buddhism, emerged immediately after his death in 622. This painting of Shōtoku is based on his biography, which was edited in the mid-Heian period and portrays him as a supernatural being.
Painted or sculpted kōyō-zō (portraits of filial piety), such as this example, characterize nearly half of the extant portraits of Shōtoku. Here, the young prince prays for the recovery from illness of his father, the emperor. He is shown in three-quarter view; dressed incongruously like a monk, he stands on a thin carpet and holds an incense burner.