The Thirty-six Poetic Immortals
Edo period (1615–1868)
Two-panel folding screen; ink and color on silk
68 1/16 x 68 3/4 in. (172.8 x 174.6 cm)
Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation
Not on view
The venerated group of Thirty-six Poetic Immortals (Sanjǔrokkasen), illustrated many times on handscrolls during the Kamakura period, only began appearing on large screens in the early Edo period. The Rinpa painter Ogata Kŏrin (1658–1716) made a group portrait of the poets, depicted in semi-caricature, on a two-panel screen. The composition became one of the most frequently copied of Kŏrin’s paintings. Although these are imaginary portraits of poets of the past, seen seated in a confined space, they are endowed with a strong sense of individuality and animation, and they appear to be absorbed in earnest conversation. Koson was one of the leading students of Sakai Hŏitsu (1761–1828), who revived the fortunes of the Rinpa school after Kŏrin’s death.