Imperial Carts (Gosho guruma)
Edo period (1615–1868)
Six-panel folding screen; ink, color, and gold on gilt paper
65 3/4 x 148 1/2in. (167 x 377.2cm)
Gift of Mrs. P. H. B. Frelinghuysen, 1962
Not on view
Lowered blinds tantalizingly suggest the presence of a beautiful lady or an elegant lord. This painting alludes to several classic literary scenes, among them an account in the "Heartvine" (Aoi) chapter of the Tale of Genji in which the attendants of Genji's mistresses create a crush of carts as they compete for the most advantageous position from which to view the Kamo festival. Combined with the motif of the heartvine, the ladies' beautifully appointed vehicles were a popular subject for lacquerware decoration. Here, devoid of human presence or of any evidence of the scuffle, the subject is treated as a purely decorative representation of the carts, quietly set among the delicate pinks of early summer.