Interior Scene with Books and Writing Implements
Edo period (1615–1868)
early to mid-17th century
Two-panel screen; ink, color, and gold leaf on paper
Image: 66 1/4 x 74 in. (168.3 x 188 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
The two-panel format, an innovation of the period, fosters an intimate feeling. Here, the focus is on the contrast between the complex arrangement of implements on the shelves and the simple figure of what appears to be a sleeping child—probably a boy—in unarticulated space.
Genre painting enjoyed great popularity from the late sixteenth century until the advent of ukiyo-e prints in the late seventeenth century. This exquisite screen is typical of the Kan’ei era (1624–49), when candid scenes of sensuous and cultivated brothel life came into favor over the previous generation’s preference for depictions of outdoor activities. The dominant image of a bookcase, with its objects of scholarly pursuit—ink, brushes, books, scrolls, a flower arrangement, and incense utensils in the tray on the top shelf—evokes a literati atmosphere.
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