Exhibitions/ Art Object
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The Poet Li Bo's Visit to Mount Emei

Artist:
Shiokawa Bunrin (Japanese, 1808–1877)
Period:
Meiji period (1868–1912)
Date:
1875
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink and gold on paper
Dimensions:
Image (each): 59 5/8 in. x 11 ft. 6 5/8 in. (151.4 x 352.1 cm)
Classification:
Screens
Credit Line:
Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 1998
Accession Number:
1998.189.1, .2
Not on view
Watery ink and small gold flecks sprinkled among valleys and mist create a luminous night scene under a hazy moon. The gentleman riding in the boat on the right screen is the famous Tang Chinese poet Li Bo (701–762), who was inspired by moonlit Mount Emei in Sichuan to compose a poem:

The autumn moon is half round above the
Emei Mountain;
Its pale light falls in and flows with the water of
the Pingqiang River.
Tonight I leave Qingxi of the limpid stream for
the Three Gorges,
And glide down past Yuzhou, thinking of you
whom I cannot see.

Four years later, Li Bo returned to the area and composed a longer poem. In Japan, the two poems became particularly famous. Shiokawa Bunrin's training was in the realist school of Shijō , but he was also familiar with the aesthetics of the nanga, or bunjinga, literati school. These screens exhibit Bunrin's knowledge of Western perspective, especially inthe treatment of the valley stream. A document accompanying the screens, written by Bunrin himself and dated to 1875, suggests that the pair was painted shortly before
Signature: On the left-hand screen is the artist's signature: "Bunrei sei" and two of his seals: 1) "Sio Bunrin in;" and 2) "Onshi." On the right-hand screen are the same two seals and a longer inscription: "Sensei Tosai Shio Bunrin sha."

Inscription: Dated 1875 on the box containing the screens
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